If you asked me during the mandatory mini-camp in early June, if TE Chris Baker would be a member of the Jets in early August, my answer would have been no. After Baker ripped into General Manager Mike Tannenbaum on June 5th, I thought their would be no way the seven year pro would be back for an eighth season with the team that drafted him.
But I was wrong again as today Baker came off the PUP list and put on the pads only three days before the Jets first preseason game against the Cleveland Browns.
And just as I want to see Chad Pennington under center this season, I sure as hell want Baker wearing the Green and White this season. While Baker will never be considered a “great” tight end, he is more than serviceable and when he teams with new acquisition Bubba Franks and first round pick Dustin Keller, he be apart of a tight end group that will allow the Jets offense to many different things in both the running and passing games.
“I’m excited to get Chris out there,” said head coach Eric Mangini. “Having Baker, Bubba Franks, Jason Pociask and (Dustin) Keller, there’s four really good candidates and they are all intelligent guys and they are all guys that can do different things.”
The benefits of having Baker are tremendous. Baker has proved over his career he can catch, especially touchdowns as he has caught 13 in his career. He is well liked by his teammates in the locker room and he can also run block. But most importantly he and Franks can help mold Keller into a dangerous threat for the Jets for years to come.
Keller has already shown Jets coaches and fans that he has the tools to be successful on the NFL level, but if Baker and Franks can show Keller the ropes (ex: how handle the media, how to handle life as an NFLer, etc), his potential can go through the roof.
But with the preseason just getting starting, it is not a guarantee that Baker will be a Jet week 1. Last season when Pete Kendall had his falling out with the Jets, he did not get traded till midway through the preseason. But for Baker’s situation we will just wait and see. Hopefully he remains with Gang Green!