Just over three weeks ago, the Kansas City Chiefs signed former New York Giants cornerback DeAndre Baker to their practice squad. At the time, Baker was expected to be on the taxi squad only a short time; the presumption was that he’d be on the active roster as soon as he was up to speed.
On Friday, the Chiefs said that moment has not yet arrived — but it is getting closer.
“We’ll just see how he continues to progress,” Chiefs head coach Andy Reid told reporters. “[Defensive coordinator] Steve Spagnuolo will take a hard look at that as we go forward.”
On Thursday, defensive backs coach Sam Madison had already said Baker has been coming along with the team.
“He’s moving along,” said Madison. “He’s been coming in here early mornings, getting a lot of different coaching points and understanding the defense. [We’re] throwing a lot of different things at him — [putting] him out there against our number one wide receivers [because] he’s on practice squad — and he’s answered the call.”
Baker, 23, was selected by the Giants with the 30th overall pick in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft. In his rookie season, the 5-foot-11, 188-pound corner accumulated 61 tackles (48 solo) and eight passes defensed.
But Baker was being prosecuted for four counts of robbery with a firearm that stemmed from a dice game in Miramar, Florida last May; the Giants waived him after he was charged in August. While the NFL has said it is continuing to investigate the affair, prosecutors dropped the charges against Baker in mid-November, clearing the way for him to find work with another NFL team.
“We’re just going to keep repping him and getting him work,” said Madison, “getting his legs back up under [him] — because a lot of these guys have a number of weeks on him, because he was out so long.”
“It’s so hard right now,” said Reid. “A young guy comes into this situation [where] it’s late, and he’s asked to learn this complex defense — and he’s working his tail off to do it. That’s a tough ask. But we’ll just see how it goes going forward. He looks really talented out there; he moves around well.”
Madison had immediately been all-in on Baker.
“When you have an opportunity to get a first-round talent and implement him into your scheme and your system — Brett Veach and coach Reid did an awesome job of having an opportunity to get him,” he said after Baker’s signing. “Getting him and getting him caught up to speed on the way that we do things — that’s going to be the most important part.”
So for the time being, we will just have to wait and see when Baker’s moment will arrive. Barring injuries to significant players in the secondary, it could yet be a while.
But this is still the NFL. Such a moment can always be just around the corner.