Jon Baldwin was up to his usual offseason tricks yesterday at the opening of the first Chiefs minicamp practice. He got free from coverage down the left sideline on one play to snag a long pass from Alex Smith, similar to the type of play he delivered several times for the Chiefs last spring.
The problem for Baldwin is that the Chiefs, like all NFL teams this time of year, are working without pads in sessions that are for the most part void of contact. Baldwin was the star of last offseason under identical circumstances, then disappeared once the pads went on.
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Two big differences for Baldwin this year. One, he’s a backup, pushed to the bench by the signing of free agent Donnie Avery. Two, the general manager who drafted him in the first round two years ago, Scott Pioli, is gone. The new administration of general manager John Dorsey and coach Andy Reid doesn’t appear interested in propping up the draft pick of former management, so Baldwin will have to earn every bit of playing time he gets.
While Baldwin’s first practice is encouraging in that regard, Reid needs to be mindful of what happened to Baldwin last year.
“Jon is working hard,’’ Reid said. “He is a unique specimen being as big as he is. He can do some things that other people can’t do just by size and strength. It’s important he puts himself into the position to do that. He’s working hard to do that. He had actually a good day today.
“He’s young. Developing as a receiver in the National Football League takes time in a lot of cases. He needs to continue to work at it. But he sure has a nice skill level.’’