A year ago, Doug Baldwin was the surprise story of the Seahawks – an undrafted rookie who scored on a 55-yard catch in his first game and went on to lead the team with 51 catches for 788 yards despite not starting a game.
Entering this season, he was expected to be a big part of an offense in transition – the dependable slot receiver the new quarterback could count on, especially if Sidney Rice still struggled with injuries and Golden Tate still was not consistent.
It hasn’t happened so far.
A hamstring injury shut Baldwin down for most of the preseason, and he caught just three passes for 13 yards in the first two games. Now, a shoulder injury has him questionable for the Monday night game against Green Bay. Coach Pete Carroll told reporters Saturday that Baldwin banged the shoulder Thursday and will be a game-time decision.
It’s an unfortunate development for an offense that is searching for consistent receivers, and it highlights one of the team’s few glaring needs that should be addressed in next year’s draft.
To emphasize that point, Rice did not practice Saturday as he rests a problematic knee. As we said in last week’s practice report, he simply has not been worth the investment.
While Baldwin might not play, wide receiver Charly Martin and tight end Zach Miller will, Carroll said.
Martin – who won a roster spot based on his steady, mistake-free play in the preseason — suffered a bruised lung against Arizona, spent a couple of days in the hospital and missed the Dallas game, but Carroll said he is ready to go.
Miller has been dealing with a foot issue that kept him out at times against Dallas, but he practiced in full this week.
Against Dallas, the Hawks unveiled a fun formation using all three tight ends on the same side, which led to a touchdown pass to Anthony McCoy. They should use that package a few times against the Packers.
A LIFT ON THE LEFT
The news is much better on the offensive line, as left tackle Russell Okung will play after missing the Dallas game with a bruised knee.
Carroll also said James Carpenter could play next week for the first time since suffering a torn ACL last December. The 2011 first-round pick has been moved from right tackle to left guard, so he could see time in place of starter Paul McQuistan. Of course, he also would provide some good depth behind Breno Giacomini at right tackle.
“He had a good week. He’s real close. Next week it will be a big decision to see if he can play in the game. We’re to that point,” Carroll said. “He’s done everything perfectly. He’s worked really hard. He’s still got some conditioning to build. But his weight is in good shape. He’s a monster when he gets in there. He looks great. We’re anxious to get him back.”
FLYNN IS ALL IN AGAIN
One guy who is finally 100 percent back is backup quarterback Matt Flynn. The former Packer was instrumental this week in giving the Seattle defense a good look at how Aaron Rodgers runs the Green Bay offense.
“This is really the first week in a month that he has been able to throw in practice with any regularity,” Carroll said. “Just to get him back on the field really gunning the ball around was great to see. … He’s really physically finally back to normal.”
We suggested earlier in the week that Carroll should start Flynn against his former team, just to throw the QB a bone for being a team player after the coaches gave what should have been his starting job to rookie Russell Wilson.
That won’t happen, although it would not be surprising at all to see Flynn play against the Packers.
OUT: CB Byron Maxwell (hamstring).
QUESTIONABLE: WR Doug Baldwin (shoulder).
PROBABLE: WR Sidney Rice (knee), RB Marshawn Lynch (back), WR Charly Martin (chest), TE Zach Miller (foot), OT Russell Okung (knee).
PUP: CB Walter Thurmond (legs).
IR: DE Dexter Davis (hip), TE Cameron Morrah (toe), RB Vai Tuau (knee).
OUT: LB Jamari Lattimore (ankle).
DOUBTFUL: CB Davon House (shoulder).
QUESTIONABLE: WR Greg Jennings (groin), TE Tom Crabtree (shoulder), S Sean Richardson (hamstring), RB James Starks (toe), DE C.J. Wilson (groin).
PROBABLE: WR Randall Cobb (hamstring), LB Terrell Manning (concussion), LB Nick Perry (wrist), OG Josh Sitton (knee.
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Chris Cluff worked as a sports editor and writer for The Seattle Times for 11 years and has written two books on the Seattle Seahawks. Since leaving the Times, he has written about the Seahawks and Seattle sports for Bleacher Report and the blog he shares with a fellow sportswriter, outsidethepressbox.com. His work can be found on Examiner.com.