Baldwin makes his case

  • By John Boyle Herald Writer
  • Thursday, September 1, 2011 12:01am
  • Sports

RENTON — If not for a newspaper publisher in Pensacola, Fla., and a former head coach of the Buffalo Bills, there’s a good chance that Doug Baldwin wouldn’t be battling for a shot to make the Seahawks roster.

And if that doesn’t make any sense, well just bear with us for a moment.

Bal

dwin, an undrafted rookie receiver out of Stanford, has been one of the pleasant surprises for Seattle this preseason. He leads the team with eight catches through three games, and made a big statement by returning a kickoff 105 yards for a touchdown in Denver last weekend.

When roster cuts are announced this weekend, there is a very good chance that Baldwin will be on the 53-man roster. In fact, Baldwin has played so well as a slot receiver and returner that speculation has begun to fly that Golden Tate, a second-round pick last year, could be in danger of missing the cut. And while that still seems unlikely, the fact that it has even become a topic of discussion shows just how impressive Baldwin has been.

And if not for some rather unusual circumstances coming together five years ago, Baldwin wouldn’t have gotten a chance to play at Stanford, where he led the Orange Bowl champs in receiving last year, and where he put together an impressive enough body of work for Pete Carroll and the Seahawks to take notice.

There’s a short story and a long story for how Baldwin ended up at Stanford.

The short? “They were the only D-I school that recruited me,” he said. “The only one.”

And the long story of how a kid from Florida ends getting his only Division-I offer from a school in Palo Alto?

Well, that’s where the newspaper publisher and the former Bills coach come in. Kevin Doyle, the publisher of the Pensacola News Journal and a former sports writer, happens to have struck up a friendship with Kay Stephenson, a longtime coach and Florida native who, among other jobs, was the head coach of the Bills from 1983 to 1985. The two were watching a game involving Gulf Breeze High School and both agreed that Baldwin looked pretty impressive. Doyle, whose son Matt is the director of football operations at Stanford, made a phone call and suggested that the Cardinal take a look at Baldwin.

“The rest is history,” Baldwin said. “I guess it was destiny.”

Of course, Baldwin had to make most of his opportunity at Stanford to get the attention of NFL teams, and once he signed with Seattle, he has had to earn his role with the team. So, it’s not as if a phone call was all it took for him to land on the doorstep of an NFL career.

“He’s done a great job,” Carroll said. “He’s really had a great camp for us. This was one of our top-priority guys when we went into free agency with the young guys. Fortunately, we got him, and he’s really answered the call to the opportunity.

“He’s shown versatility and toughness and a real ability in short yardage to get open and all. Then he’s shown big speed, too, to run back 105 yards. He’s been good in other aspects of the kicking game. He’s really done a great job.”

And as impressive as Baldwin has been so far, he’s hardly satisfied with his play. Like every undrafted rookie fighting the uphill battle to make an NFL roster, Baldwin says he has a chip on his shoulder and is motivated by the fact that 32 teams passed on him for seven rounds. So even if those watching him are impressed, Baldwin still expects more from himself.

“I always say that I have high expectations for myself, so when I come out here I expect to do well,” he said. “If I don’t dominate every play, then I feel like something is wrong. So I feel like I’m doing OK, but there is always stuff to improve on. There’s still a long road ahead of me.”

Notable

The Seahawks re-signed receivers Chris Carter and Patrick Williams, both of whom were released Monday as the Seahawks trimmed their roster from 90 to 80 players. The two were likely signed to provide depth at receiver for the final preseason game. Sidney Rice is dealing with a sore shoulder and might be held out. Ben Obomanu didn’t finish Tuesday’s practice after hitting his head on the turf and sat out Wednesday’s practice as well. Additionally, Mike Williams has been dealing with a nagging toe injury and Isaiah Stanback also has been battling a hamstring injury. … Punter John Gold and cornerback Ron Parker were released to make room on the roster. … Veteran running back Clinton Portis, a two-time Pro Bowl player, worked out for the Seahawks Wednesday according to the NFL Network. Portis, who turns 30 today, is the cousin of Seattle’s No. 3 quarterback, Josh Portis.

Herald Writer John Boyle: jboyle@heraldnet.com. For more Seahawks coverage, check out the Seahawks blog at heraldnet.com/seahawksblog

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