For Doug Baldwin, it’s always competition over complacency

Posted May 30, 2014

In his first practice after signing a three-year contract on Thursday, wide receiver Doug Baldwin was money in the Seahawks’ OTA session on Friday – highlighted by his 61-yard touchdown reception.

During the news conference on Thursday to announce that Doug Baldwin had just signed a three-year contract, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll offered, “I can’t wait to see him get on the practice field tomorrow and go ahead and battle Earl and Sherm and all those guys and get fighting again just like we always do and bring what is so special about Doug and about our team.”

From Carroll’s lips to Baldwin’s sure hands and, as it turned out, from Russell Wilson’s arm to Baldwin’s fingertips.

Right on cue during Friday’s OTA practice, Baldwin got behind All-Pro free safety Earl Thomas and cornerback Byron Maxwell to run down a pass from Wilson for a 61-yard touchdown.

And, as also should be expected, Baldwin chirped at the defensive players along the sideline as he made his way back to the huddle. There were other catches – against other defensive backs, including All-Pro corner Richard Sherman – and also the reminders of just who had made the catch.

It’s just Baldwin’s way of putting a capital ‘C’ in the Competition that is the bedrock of the Seahawks’ practices under Carroll – whether they’re being conducted the week of the Super Bowl in New Jersey or the last week in May along the shores of Lake Washington.

Baldwin was here, there and seemingly everywhere during the Seahawks’ third OTA practice – with three more scheduled for next week. He lined up at flanker. He lined up at split end. He also was in the slot, on either side.

Get used to it, because Carroll says that’s the plan for the fourth-year receiver who led the team in receptions and receiving yards as a rookie free agent in 2011 and was second in both categories last season.

“We’re going to do all of the stuff that Doug does,” Carroll said when asked what role Baldwin would fill this season. “As always, we’re trying to feature the qualities that guys have that are special. Doug has extraordinary quickness. He really has the ability to separate on anybody. So we’ll continue to use him inside and outside.

“He’ll start outside for us at the split end spot, but he’ll be all over the field. You’ll have a hard time tracking him down because he’s capable of playing all of the positions and all of the spots and running all of the routes. So we’ll do everything with him.”

It was that quickness Carroll mentioned that allowed Baldwin to be so productive while operating primarily from the slot in 2011, when his 51 receptions for 788 yards made him the first undrafted rookie to lead his team in both categories since Bill Groman did it for the Houston Oilers in 1960.

Last season, when Baldwin took over as the flanker at midseason after Sidney Rice was placed on injured reserve, he caught 50 passes for 778 yards and a career-high five touchdowns during the regular season and then compiled team-leading totals (13 for 202) in the postseason.

What’s the difference? “When I’m in the slot, sometimes you have to be confined to certain rules because that’s just the way the slot is,” Baldwin explained. “In order to be outside as well, you have to be more flexible in doing different things in terms of releases, in terms of the way you run your routes and that’s exciting for me.

“That’s another challenge. I played outside in college, so I’m just going back to that. It’s just re-learning what I’ve learned before.”

And which spot in this receiver smorgasbord is most appealing to Baldwin?

“I love them all,” he said.

Especially when he’s making plays from them all.