Kansas City Chiefs’ first-round draft pick Jonathan Baldwin, while finally cleared to play by his doctors, may not get cleared to play by his head coach.
Talking with reporters yesterday, Chiefs coach Todd Haley cautioned that there is no guarantee that Baldwin will be active for Sunday’s crucial road test against the Oakland Raiders.
“I don’t think it’s a lock that Jonathan will be active or not,” said Haley. “Right now, I think we’ll go through this week and there are a lot of factors that will play into that decision and we need to do what we feel like gives us the best chance to win this Sunday with the roster on game day and we’ve got to prepare that way. We’ll see how it plays out once we get going here.”
More after the jump.
I can understand where Haley is coming from here. Baldwin is a rookie and he has been out a long time. Since Baldwin is probably, at best, the third best receiver on the roster right now, he’s fighting for playing time with Keary Colbert, Terrance Copper and Jeremy Horne. Copper and Horne are big special teams contributors and Colbert, while maybe not spectacular, has been a fairly solid third WR option for Matt Cassel. Colbert has stepped up big the last couple of weeks, reeling in some key catches when the Chiefs needed them.
Baldwin may be more talented than Colbert, Horne and Copper, but at this point he may not be more valuable.
It is a tough call to make for Haley. Obviously the Chiefs invested a first-round pick in Baldwin, and they want to get him on the field. At the same time, the offense and the passing game finally seems to be coming around and KC can’t afford any more missteps as they try to climb back into the division race.
I think if the Chiefs can figure out their special teams needs that they should try to get Baldwin out there, even if it is just for a few snaps. His size could really come in handy and help cause matchup problems, particularly in the red zone.
Unfortunately for Baldwin, it isn’t me he has to convince.
It’s Todd Haley.