The rich seemingly got richer last November when the Kansas City Chiefs signed former first-round cornerback Deandre Baker following the dismissal of criminal charges stemming from a May 2020 incidient.
However, after nearly six months away, Baker’s return to the playing field was short-lived after suffering a season-ending non-contact leg injury in Week 17, later determined to be a broken femur.
According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, “most femoral fractures take about 4 to 6 months to heal completely,” putting Baker on track for a potential return by June.
Now entering July, the 23-year-old is doing exactly that.
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Baker Shows off Progress in Recent Workout Video
The 30th overall pick of the 2019 NFL draft, Baker was present, but without a helmet, at Kansas City’s mandatory minicamp from June 15-17, per Sam McDowell of The Kansas City Star.
In a June 30 Instagram video posted by @chiefs_capital, Baker can be seen sprinting while pulling a weighted sled and working on his backpedal and change of direction. All are encouraging signs as the start of training camp quickly approaches on July 28.
Once fully healthy, the third-year cover man is expected to compete for additional playing time in 2021 following the departures of former No. 1 cornerback Bashaud Breeland and special teams ace Antonio Hamilton.
With 2020 standout L’Jarius Sneed and two-year starter Charvarius Ward presumably penciled into significant roles, Baker will need to show out over Rashad Fenton, BoPete Keyes and former first-round pick Mike Hughes, acquired in a May 13 trade with Minnesota.
Baker, who initially signed a one-year deal with the Chiefs on November 19, 2020, was signed to a reserve/future contract on February 9 after head coach Andy Reid expressed interest in getting him back following the injury.
He saw his first action with the team during last season’s Week 15 showdown in New Orleans. After being deactivated in Week 16, the Georgia product was among a lengthy list of backups given a chance to start in the season finale after Kansas City had clinched a first-round playoff bye week. Baker took advantage of the opportunity, posting five combined tackles, one pass breakup and a sack before breaking his leg against the Los Angeles Chargers.
“So without being a doctor, I’m just telling you the prognosis is good for him,” Reid told reporters on January 4, via The Chiefs Wire. “He was actually playing very good, so we look forward to getting him back.”
Chiefs’ Roster Named 2nd Best in NFL
There is little doubt that Kansas City’s roster continues to boast some of the most star power across the league. With free agency and the trade market having cooled down considerably, both Pro Football Focus and CBS Sports recently ranked all 32 NFL rosters from best to worst.
In both exercises, the Chiefs placed second, trailing only the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who this offseason became the first team in the Super Bowl era to return all 22 starters.
Even with question marks at WR2, along the defensive line and at cornerback, the Chiefs’ top-ranked offense is expected to carry the reigning AFC champions once again in 2021.
“The offensive trio of Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill is the reason Kansas City is once again the betting favorite to bring home a Lombardi Trophy this season,” wrote PFF analyst Ben Linsey.
“According to PFF’s wins above replacement metric, Mahomes has been the most valuable quarterback in the NFL over the past three seasons by more than a full win. Kelce comfortably ranks first at the tight end position, and Hill comes in at fourth among wide receivers. Throw in coach Andy Reid, one of the top offensive playcallers in the NFL, and the offense becomes nearly impossible to stop.”
Chris Licata is an NFL contributor covering the Kansas City Chiefs from enemy territory in Denver, Colorado. Follow him on Twitter @Chris__Licata or join the Heavy on Chiefs Facebook community for the latest out of Chiefs Kingdom!