Pete Carroll gave his most definitive statement yet: Doug Baldwin will play in the Seahawks’ opener.
The Pro Bowl wide receiver and Russell Wilson’s top target in Seattle’s offense has missed both preseason games and not practiced since the last days of July because of a left-knee injury. He’s been off getting “special treatment,” in Carroll’s words, but been back to watch most practices. He watched Tuesday’s indoor one while wearing an ice bag for a while on that left knee.
“He’s doing really well,” Carroll said following Tuesday’s practice forced inside by Western Washington’s heavy and irritating smoke persisting in the air.
“He’s really excited about coming back. He’s running. He’ll want to play next week (in Seattle’s preseason finale Aug. 30 against Oakland). We’ll just get back out here and make that determination next week.
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“But he’s going to be there for the opener.”
What does that mean to Wilson and the Seahawks’ offense?
Baldwin is Seattle’s $46 million wide receiver. He has been selected for the last two Pro Bowls. Wilson has thrown to Baldwin 344 times the last three seasons, an average of seven targets per regular-season game. That’s produced 247 catches and 29 touchdowns. One-third of Wilson’s 89 touchdown throws in all games to all receivers over the last three years have gone to Baldwin.
Baldwin tied Bobby Engram’s team record for receptions in a seasons with 94 in 2016. He led the NFL with 14 touchdown catches in 2015.
Brandon Marshall, the 34-year-old with six 100-catch seasons in the NFL whom Seattle signed this offseason, has shown this month he is back from toe and ankle surgeries and a 2017 season with the New York Giants cut short after five games and a career-low 18 catches. Marshall has dominated Seahawks cornerbacks with his physicality at times in preseason practices, though the team has limited him some in games to preserve him for the real season.
Baldwin and Marshall are poised to be Seattle’s one and two wide receivers to begin the regular season. They have combined for 1,402 catches and 126 touchdowns in their careers.
The other wide receivers on Seattle’s roster—Tyler Lockett, former Arizona Cardinal Jaron Brown, emerging second-year man David Moore, currently-injured Amara Darboh, Marcus Johnson, Keenan Reynolds, Tanner McEvoy and Cyril Grayson—have 250 catches and 20 TDs combined between all their NFL careers.
So, yes, Carroll’s news Tuesday on Baldwin is a big deal for the Seahawks.