Baldwin seems assured of missing a game for the first time since 2012 when the Seahawks play at Chicago Monday night.
The Seahawks could be without their leading receiver the past four seasons, Doug Baldwin, for up to a month following a report he suffered a Grade 2 partial tear of the MCL (medial collateral ligament) in his right knee in Sunday’s loss at Denver. Adam Schefter of ESPN reported the diagnosis Monday and wrote that the Seahawks are “still trying to figure out how much time he will miss.”
Such an injury generally requires three to four weeks to heal, so Baldwin will likely miss some games, with the question being how many.
Baldwin has played 89 consecutive games, the fourth-longest active streak for a receiver in the NFL, and hasn’t missed a game since Oct. 28, 2012 against Detroit when he sat out with an ankle injury. That was one of just two games he has missed in his career — he also missed a Monday night home game against Green Bay in 2012 with a shoulder injury.
Otherwise, Baldwin has played in 111 of a possible 113 regular-season games since coming to Seattle in 2011.
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Baldwin sat out the preseason to rest his left knee and said two weeks ago he would have to manage that knee throughout the 2018 season.
The injury to his right knee occurred on a running play with 5:29 left in the first quarter when he got rolled up on by nose tackle Domata Peko Sr. while trying to block cornerback Chris Harris.
Baldwin left the game but then returned and played into the second quarter, seeing action on 11 snaps overall before it was decided at halftime that he would be held out of the rest of the game.
“He has got a little MCL sprain in his other knee and so we have just got to see what that means,” coach Pete Carroll said after the game. “He went back in the game and played some, but, we just eventually kind of talked him out of playing because he wanted to keep going, you know, and we just want to make sure we take care of him.”
What the Seahawks might have to weigh is whether to assume Baldwin can be back on the short end of that time period and leave him on the active roster or put him on Injured Reserve, which means he would miss eight games. Two players a year can be placed on IR and then return after eight games. Teams no longer have to designate that player as a candidate to return when placed on IR, so the Seahawks could simply put Baldwin on IR for now and know he could return later.
Baldwin did not catch a pass on one target Sunday, snapping a streak of 64 consecutive regular-season games with at least one reception.
Baldwin has led the Seahawks in receptions each of the past four years and is fourth in Seattle history in receptions with 472, trailing only Steve Largent (819), Brian Blades (581) and John L. Williams (471).
The Seahawks will almost certainly have to add a receiver to the roster as they entered the Denver game with just five — Baldwin, Tyler Lockett, Brandon Marshall, Jaron Brown and David Moore. Seattle has Keenan Reynolds and Caleb Scott on its practice squad after each spent all of the preseason with the Seahawks, and is also expected to sign Malik Turner to its practice squad this week.
Reynolds is the most obvious replacement for Baldwin as he typically lined up in the slot during the preseason, the same spot where Baldwin most often lines up.
The Seahawks could also scour the ranks of available free-agent receivers, especially if the feeling is Baldwin could be out for an extended period.