Focus on: Doug Baldwin

Posted Oct 30, 2013

With Sidney Rice on injured reserve and heading for surgery to repair a torn knee ligament, the line to replace him at flanker starts with Doug Baldwin – starting with the Buccaneers and Darrelle Revis.

Doug Baldwin has been targeted once in each of the Seahawks’ past two games. But that’s about to change for the third-year wide receiver.

Flanker Sidney Rice was placed on injured reserve Wednesday after a MRI on Tuesday revealed that he had torn a knee ligament in Monday night’s victory over the Rams in St. Louis. And as everyone from coach Pete Carroll, to offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, to Baldwin said, “It’s next man up.”

And that would be Baldwin, as well as second-year receiver Jermaine Kearse. Baldwin, who has played primarily as the slot receiver during the teams’ 7-1 start, takes over at flanker – but he’ll still slide inside in the three-receiver sets the Seahawks use so often, with Kearse as the flanker.

Baldwin stressed before practice that he is not Sidney Rice. The most obvious difference is that Rice is 6 feet 4 and plays even taller – and longer – because his elongated catching radius. Baldwin is 5-10.

“I can’t grow. I can’t get any taller,” Baldwin said. After the laugher subsided, he added, “Sidney is a bigger target for Russell (Wilson), obviously. And he’s amazing at catching anything. Like you know, he’ll give up his body to do so. It’s pretty difficult to replicate the things he does when he’s in those positions. He’s great at just having awkward-body catches.”

So what’s the tradeoff with the move to Baldwin? “You’ll get what Doug Baldwin is – instant-separation guy; a try-hard guy; a guy who wants to be the best he can be,” he said. 

It was a difficult day for the team in general and the wide receivers specifically, because no one thought Rice’s injury was that serious after the game. An MRI on Tuesday detected the ligament damage and need for surgery.

“Our receiver room is a family, and Sid is kind of like the head of the family,” Baldwin said. “So to have a guy where just his presence is so important, to have him not there anymore is devastating to us.”

Back to Baldwin’s limited opportunities of late. He caught both the passes thrown his way – a 12-yarder against the Rams and a 16-yarder against the Cardinals in Arizona. Each produced a first down, giving him 11 first downs on his 23 receptions.

But Baldwin has shown he can do more when given more opportunities. He led the team in receptions (51) and receiving yards (788) as a rookie free agent in 2011, making him the first undrafted rookie to do that since the Houston Oilers’ Bill Groman in 1960. His numbers dipped to 29 receptions for 366 yards last season, when Rice played 16 games for the first time in his NFL career and Golden Tate blossomed at the split end position.

This week, the chances are pretty good that Baldwin will visit “Revis Island” when the Seahawks host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at CenturyLink Field. Darrelle Revis was generally considered the best cover cornerback in the NFL before suffering a season-ending knee injury in 2012 while playing for the New York Jets. The Bucs invested a lot to acquire Revis in an offseason trade and then appeased him with a new contract worthy of someone with his skills.

“As a competitor, you want to go up against the best,” Baldwin said. “And Darrelle Revis has been considered arguably one of the best corners in the league, if not the best. So being able to have an opportunity to go up against him, it’s a dream come true.”