At a legitimate 6-foot-5 and 220 pounds, Jonathan Baldwin is a serious target for every Pittsburgh quarterback in practice. And since he also has sprinter's speed with consistent 4.4-second 40-yard dash times, Baldwin seemingly has to get on the field.
"It definitely looks like he's going to be able to help us,'' Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt understated after another solid Baldwin performance.
One play that stood out over the weekend was a one-handed catch where Baldwin beat a cover-two scheme to the sideline and leaped to beat cornerback Jovani Chappel and safety Eric Thatcher. Baldwin caught the pass with his right hand and came down inbounds for an eye-popping grab.
"That catch, I made a good play, but it's just one play,'' Baldwin said in an attempt to downplay a significant performance. "It's not going to determine whether or not we win or lose a game. I just have to stay consistent and keep doing the same things on every play every day.
"And I think we have a few guys on the team who can make that play or plays like that. But I never thought that play would open eyes to get me playing time. I just want to keep working hard, and then the coaches can see that and give me more time. I just want to get more consistent.''
That aspect of his game will take more time, because there are still plays where Baldwin clearly did not run the correct route or go deep enough into the secondary to draw coverage from the underneath guys. But when the ball goes his way, he rarely drops it.
"Things are going great for me,'' Baldwin said. "I'm just listening to the coaches, finding out all my routes and getting information from the older players like Derek Kinder and Oderick Turner, Cedric McGee and T.J. (Porter). So, everything's going pretty good. And, hopefully, I can keep making plays.
"The first thing is to learn what we have to do, and then we can have fun. When you don't know where to go and are just running around, it can get confusing. So, I'm just studying my plays and trying to get them down right now. But the biggest thing for me is to sharpen up my routes.
"Also, I need to remember what people to block,'' Baldwin added. "Sometimes, I forget that, so I have to work on the little things, the depth of my routes and my blocking assignments. I'll be all right if I can get them down. ... (But) the quarterbacks are doing a good job, putting the balls in the right spots. We just have to catch them.''
Thus far for Baldwin, that hasn't been a problem.
Baldwin Making Strides
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