While it has been frustrating for Baldwin, he said it hasn't been surprising. Given how healthy he stayed for the previous five years, he said he figured something like this was inevitable.
"Yeah, of course," Baldwin said Friday. "It's 100 percent injury rate in this league, and I was talking to some friends the other day about it in the league. It feels like every player who's fortunate enough to play a long time in the NFL has a year like this where they just, they cannot knock the injury bug. It's just part of the game, part of the lifestyle."
Asked if this season has him feeling as though he's on the downside of his career, Baldwin quickly answered in the affirmative.
"Oh, I am on the downside," he said. "I'm 30 years old. I would not be able to play at the caliber I'm now at 38, so I'm definitely on the downside."
Baldwin didn't play in Seattle's victory over the Minnesota Vikings on Monday night because of what the team calls a hip injury. It limited him the past two days in practice, but coach Pete Carroll said Baldwin progressed well and that "he looks like he's playing."
Baldwin missed a month of training camp because of a patellar injury in one knee, then injured his MCL in the season opener, which sidelined him for the second half of that game and the next two. That snapped his streak of 89 consecutive games played.
Baldwin has been playing through an elbow injury since Week 6 and more recently a groin injury that nearly kept him out in Week 12 against Carolina. The groin injury occurred on the same day that Carroll declared Baldwin to be the healthiest he has been this season. The hip injury, Baldwin said, surfaced two weeks ago, on the Friday before Seattle's first game against San Francisco.
Baldwin said his knees are doing "much better" but that they still need to be managed.
His numbers have predictably dipped. After leading the team in receiving in five of his first seven seasons, Baldwin's 388 yards are third behind Tyler Lockett and David Moore. He has 37 receptions and two touchdowns.
"It's been pretty difficult," he said. "Really difficult."
In addition to Baldwin, the Seahawks (8-5) expect to have strong safety Bradley McDougald and defensive tackle Jarran Reed available for Sunday despite questionable listings for all three. Running back Rashaad Penny has been ruled out with a knee injury along with linebacker K.J. Wright (knee) and backup safety Maurice Alexander (concussion). Right guard D.J. Fluker (hamstring) is doubtful, which means another start for Jordan Simmons.
Penny, who has been playing behind starter Chris Carson, came out of the Vikings game with a sore knee, according to Carroll. He said Penny had an MRI, and that it didn't reveal any damage that needed to be surgically repaired "right now."
"He's just going to have some stuff done," Carroll said of Penny, who was Seattle's first-round pick in April. "He's going to work over the weekend and see if the rehab is effective. He feels pretty good but he just couldn't get going this week. The rest over the weekend and the stuff that they're doing will show us something probably by Tuesday. By the time we get to practice Wednesday, we'll have a better feel."
The Seahawks have won four straight and eight of their past 11 following their 0-2 start. A victory Sunday at Levi's Stadium would secure a wild-card berth and their sixth playoff appearance in seven seasons. While noting that the Seahawks still need to get there first, Baldwin said they'll be a tough out come the postseason.
"With this team, with the young mindset, with the underdog mentality and attitude and with the true ability that we have, I think that we genuinely have a shot," he said. "Once we get in the tournament, it's going to be very hard to beat us. I think that a lot of us are getting healthy at the right time. We're kind of coming into our own at the right time. So I'm really looking forward to obviously securing our playoff berth first but then getting into the tournament and actually being able to show what we're really capable of against playoff-level talent.
"I'm really excited about our chances."