Heartland Health Training Camp Preview: Wide Receivers

Posted Jul 20, 2012

Three questions surrounding the Chiefs wide receiver position heading into training camp

1) Can Jonathan Baldwin carry his impressive offseason into training camp and then the regular season?

Highlight-reel catches were near daily occurrences for Jonathan Baldwin during Chiefs offseason practices.

There were acrobatic catches, leaping grabs and toe-touch finishes. Baldwin was consistent across the middle and converted down the sideline. He showed plenty of signs that he’s ready to take a significant step forward in his second NFL season.

“It’s a good sign and it’s good to see,” head coach Romeo Crennel said of Baldwin’s big plays during OTAs.

"I think everybody knows that he has got it athletically," added veteran receiver Steve Breaston. "He came back this offseason, he's in his playbook. He's learning a lot.”

Baldwin emerged from the offseason program as one of the team’s biggest winners. The next step is from him to keep that progress going in St. Joseph.

One of the silver linings in Dwayne Bowe’s absence from offseason workouts was Baldwin’s ability to get more repetitions Matt Cassel. Between Baldwin’s preseason hand injury delaying his debut and Cassel’s hand injury curtailing the quarterback’s 2011 season, the pair worked together in just four games last year.

Breaston and Baldwin aligned opposite each other as Cassel’s primary receivers throughout the offseason program.

"As a receiver, when you know your offense and you know where to be, you play faster because you're no longer thinking,” Breaston said. “You're athletic ability takes over, and that's what it's coming to at receiver.

“You can be talented, but you're not as fast as you are because you don't know certain things. But if you see JB is out there, he's in the meetings, he's attentive. He's calling out the plays and things like that. He knows that it is just going to allow him a lot of pass room on the field."

When the pads come on, Baldwin will see plenty of one-on-one matchups against Stanford Routt over the course of training camp. Routt has always excelled in man-to-man press coverage and will challenge Baldwin at the line of scrimmage.

It’s just another area to pay attention to this summer regarding Baldwin’s development.

2) Who comes out of the fierce battle for reserve receiving positions?

There will be a load of competition for the final few receiving position on Kansas City’s 53-man roster.

The Chiefs typically keep six receivers on the active roster during the regular season. Pencil in three of those spots to Dwayne Bowe, Steve Breaston and Jonathan Baldwin and there are still some talented players competing for just a few positions.

Including Dexter McCluster, who’s still officially listed as a running back, the Chiefs will open training camp with 13 receivers competing to make the roster. It’s a group that includes two 2012 draft picks (fourth-rounder Devon Wylie and seventh-rounder Junior Hemingway) and six players who’ve previously been active on the Chiefs 53-man roster (Baldwin, Breaston, Bowe, McCluster, Terrance Copper and Jeremy Horne).

Add in two additional players who spent time on the practice squad last season (Jamar Newsome and Zeke Markshausen) with an impressive round of offseason practices from undrafted rookie Josh Bellamy and the Chiefs should have some difficult decisions to make at the end of camp.

There are only so many roster spots to go around and special teams production will become a big factor in determining the final receivers that make the team.

3) What about Dwayne Bowe?

Unsigned players aren’t permitted to participate in training camp, so Bowe must sign his one-year franchise tender before he is allowed to join the Chiefs in St. Joseph.

Whenever Bowe returns, his teammates have said they’ll welcome him back with open arms.

In the meantime, head coach Romeo Crennel plans to go about his business preparing the Chiefs to open the 2012 campaign against a strong early-season schedule.

"We're going to win with whoever we have," Crennel said when asked of Bowe’s contract situation back in June. "If he's with us, we'd like that to happen. If he's not, then we're going to work with the guys we've got here."


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