The Seahawks could be without Doug Baldwin into October.
That is, if the Pro Bowl wide receiver indeed has a grade 2 partial tear of the medial collateral ligament in his knee, as a report by ESPN’s Adam Schefter said Monday.
Schefter reported the Seahawks are “still trying to figure out how much time he will miss.”
University of California, San Francisco Health says a grade 2 MCL tear “can take from two to four weeks to heal.”
Losing Baldwin — quarterback Russell Wilson’s top target and third-down receiver who has caught one-third of all touchdown passes Wilson has thrown the last three seasons — for any number of games is obviously bad.
But a partial tear of the MCL and perhaps missing two to four games is actually better than the somber vibe coming from players and coaches in the Seahawks’ locker room following Sunday’s loss in Denver.
As UCSF Health notes, the “MCL usually responds very well to non-surgical treatment.” That’s better than any such tear or damage to Baldwin’s anterior cruciate ligament, outside the center interior of the knee where the MCL stabilizes the joint.
Baldwin injured his right knee in the first half of Sunday’s opening-game loss at Denver. He got rolled up on from behind by other players blocking at the end of a play. He tried to return briefly later in the half but both he and the Seahawks decided the more prudent course was to stay out the final two quarters. He played just 11 of 57 snaps on offense.
For the last four years he’s played about 80 percent of Seattle’s offensive snaps. No other skill-position player besides Wilson has played more in that span.
“That is big,” fellow Seahawks wide receiver Tyler Lockett said Sunday of losing Baldwin. “Doug is our No. 1 receiver and our go-to receiver. We know that he provides a lot of attention when he is out there. With him being out, it hurt. We were happy that he tried to come back in and continue to fight and be able to help us out. It was one of those things that was just hard to overcome.
“We had to make do with what we had. A lot of guys were out there making great plays. We just didn’t make enough. Doug has been a great leader, helping people out and making sure people are ready, because you never know when your name is going to be called.”
Lockett caught a touchdown pass early in the fourth quarter to put the Seahawks ahead 24-20 on the Broncos. But Denver rallied for a 27-24 win. Seattle missed Baldwin on third downs, particularly, converting just 2 of 12 chances into first downs.
“Obviously, Doug is a star receiver and can make all the plays in the world,” Wilson said Sunday.
“Doug is a true play maker. He’s done it for years. I know he’s going to do everything he can to get back as soon as possible.”
Coach Pete Carroll said earlier Monday on his weekly day-after radio show with Seattle’s KIRO AM he’d yet to get further word on the severity of Baldwin’s injury.
Baldwin, who turns 30 this month, said in the locker room Sunday at Denver he was awaiting more tests Monday.
He was already playing with a banged-up left, opposite knee, that kept him from practicing for almost all of August. He said two weeks ago his left knee was unlikely to be fully healthy at any point this season, and that it would be a pain-management issue all season for him with that knee.
“He’s got a little MCL sprain in his other knee, so we’ve just got to see what that means,” Carroll said Sunday. “He went back in the game and played some. Eventually kind of talked him out of playing, because he wanted to keep going, just to make sure we take care of him.”
Baldwin’s injury and absence increases the importance of 34-year-old Brandon Marshall. The six-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Seattle signed this offseason is coming off toe and ankle surgeries since October. He caught a touchdown pass Sunday in Denver and had a second TD catch called back when he committed offensive pass interference to get open.
The Seahawks have just four healthy wide receivers now on the 53-man roster: Marshall, Lockett, Jaron Brown and second-year man David Moore.
They have a receiver in Baldwin-like style and stature on the practice squad in Keenan Reynolds. The Seahawks could sign Reynolds to the active roster this week before playing the Bears.