RENTON, Wash. — For most of the past month, Doug Baldwin has been a spectator as he dealt with a sore left knee that kept him from participating in Seattle Seahawks practices.
It may be how Baldwin and the Seahawks end up managing most of the upcoming season for Seattle's No. 1 wide receiver.
"I'm probably about 80-85 per cent right now and the truth of the matter is it won't be 100 per cent," Baldwin said. "It's something I've got to deal with for the rest of the season."
At least Baldwin is back on the field and showing signs of progress. He won't play in the preseason finale Thursday against Oakland, but the expectation is that he will be ready for the regular-season opener Sept. 9 at Denver. The month of waiting to get back into practice has been difficult for Baldwin to handle.
"To be out this long ... it was hard. It was hard emotionally. It was good to be back out there," he said.
The team has offered few specifics about Baldwin's knee. Coach Pete Carroll simply called it a sore knee. Baldwin was coy when asked if he's undergone surgery, saying, "It depends on your definition of surgery."
Whatever the full extent, it's clear the issue is something Seattle will have to manage with rest if it expects to have Baldwin for the entire season.
"It will be something we have to manage throughout the course of the year. It will be day to day," Baldwin said.
Baldwin practiced two days at the start of camp before becoming a spectator and spending more time in the training room than on any field. He said the knee issue emerged during the first week of OTAs in the spring and he did not participate in the team's mandatory minicamp in June.
Once he realized the knee wasn't responding as he hoped at the start of camp, it became a race to see if he could be ready for the start of the season.
"The first two days of camp realized it wasn't where we wanted it to be in order for me to sustain the level of play, being able to express myself athletically, that I want to," Baldwin said. "So it was time to do something more serious."
Baldwin is coming off a down season by his standards. He had 75 catches, 991 yards and eight touchdowns in 2017 as Seattle's overall offence took a step back. A year earlier, Baldwin had a career-best 94 receptions, and in 2016 he had 14 touchdown catches.
He understands his role in Seattle's offence may be different this year with the addition of new offensive co-ordinator Brian Schottenheimer and a wide receiver group that includes newcomers Brandon Marshall and Jaron Brown. Not being able to be part of training camp has made the transition to the new offence a bit tougher.
"Obviously I would have liked to have some game reps and more practice because I am a rep guy and especially now with the new offence," Baldwin said. "I would like to get the physical reps, especially with the quarterback trying to get that chemistry and build that rapport. I've been playing football since I was little. It's really not that much different for me. I've been in the league now going on eight years, at this point it should be like riding a bike."
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