From the O.co Coliseum, Oakland, California
Turns out that Hue Jackson knew he was going to start Kyle Boller at quarterback all week. He just had some fun keeping the Chiefs in the dark.
Well, it turns out that Todd Haley knew all week that he was going to put Jonathan Baldwin into the 46-man game-day roster for the first time in his rookie season.
“I had a pretty good idea that was the way it was going to go,” Baldwin said after getting his first taste of regular season play. “It’s up to coach when he tells anybody, but I felt like I was going to get a chance to play.”
Chance? Baldwin spent almost as much time on the field as starting WRs Dwayne Bowe and Steve Breaston. With the Raiders short on cornerbacks due to starter Chris Johnson and backup rookie Chimdi Chekwa inactive because of injury, Oakland started rookie DeMarcus Van Dyke opposite of veteran Stanford Routt. In reserve, they had nothing but safeties and then lost one of those when Matt Giordano left the game with a neck injury.
“They were hurting on the corner so we wanted to take advantage of that,” said Baldwin. “It kept me on the field a lot and that was great.”
There had been a lot of talk about Baldwin and his readiness to play on special teams, but not much of that happened either. He wasn’t on the first unit of any of the four major units on kickoff, kick return, punt return and punt. It appeared that rookie CB Jalil Brown got more snaps on special teams, replacing those that belonged to WR Jeremy Horne, who was inactive.
Baldwin stepped on the field for the first time on the Chiefs third offensive play, a 2nd-and-15 play at their 18-yard line. In fact, QB Matt Cassel immediately threw the ball in Baldwin’s direction on the left side but he was well covered by Van Dyke.
His first catch came later in the first quarter, on a 3rd-and-13 play; Baldwin ran his route at 14 yards, made the catch and moved the sticks.
“I knew where I needed to be on that play,” said Baldwin. “It was important to get that first down.”
Overall, Cassel threw in Baldwin’s direction five times, but connected just once. After missing three pre-season games and then five regular season games due to his broken right thumb, his career had to start somewhere, and Baldwin was not going to enjoy the moment.
“It was great being out there and getting hit and hitting other guys,” said Baldwin. “I wanted to do whatever I could to help us win. It was a lot of fun.”