It's a family matter. That's how the Chiefs are reacting to the locker room altercation between running back Thomas Jones and rookie wide receiver Jonathan Baldwin that went down in the team's last day of training camp in St. Joseph.
Details of the fight remain covered up by the team's wall of family secrecy that went up soon after the incident. The outcome of the incident was obvious - Baldwin has a thumb injury that will keep him out of the rest of the preseason and maybe into the regular season. Jones had no visible injuries and he played quite a bit in Friday's game against Baltimore.
Baldwin did not play against the Ravens and was not seen at the team's hotel or locker room. After the game, coach Todd Haley at first indicated he did not understand the questions being asked of him about a fight.
Eventually, he talked about Baldwin.
"Jonathan Baldwin did not play tonight due to injury," Haley said. "As I say in here a bunch, that's the extent of what I'm going to talk about."
Haley was asked if there was an altercation involving Baldwin and Jones.
"As with many things on our team, we fall into the family business category," Haley said. "I'll talk about the guys that were out there tonight and playing and trying to get better."
Jones was not willing to talk about the incident after the game.
"At this point, I'm just focused on this game and how we played," Jones said. "If it's not a football question, there's nothing to answer. If it's not a football question, I'm not interested in answering."
Other Chiefs waved away questions about what happened between Baldwin and Jones.
"It's family business," said strong safety Eric Berry. "It's not something that anybody is going to talk about outside the family."
Jones and Baldwin apparently were in character with the incident. Baldwin's attitude left some ruffled feathers at the University of Pittsburgh, especially after the 2010 season when he ripped the play-calling and quarterbacking as reasons for his numbers regressing. When Jones was with the Chicago Bears, he tangled with fellow running back Cedric Benson.
There certainly wasn't a problem with whatever approach Jones took in the situation, because he was on the field and very active in the game at Baltimore. Haley has had nothing but praise for the 33-year old running back since he arrived last year as a free agent from the New York Jets.
Acknowledgement of the altercation did not come from the organization. As has been their pattern in the previous two years, they publicly pretended that nothing unusual happened. So there was no explanation of what may have caused the tussle.
But there's no doubt about this: the Chiefs and Baldwin face a long road of rehabilitation, not only for his wrist, but his reputation, whether the organization wants to acknowledge the situation or not. His rookie preseason was an important opportunity for Baldwin. The Chiefs' offense needs his big-play ability to help take the passing game to the next level.
What's the next move for the Chiefs and Baldwin? He gets healthy and returns to practice as soon as possible. He's too big an investment to cut loose or bury on the injured reserve list. When he's healed, it's up to Baldwin from that point. He has a lot to prove.
What's the next move for the Chiefs and Jones? Nothing. One of the reasons Jones was signed by the Chiefs included providing leadership in the locker room.
Jones did his job. Baldwin did not, and that has to have Haley and general manager Scott Pioli pondering their draft-day decision. There were questions about Baldwin's maturity coming out of Pitt, and that was brushed aside by the Chiefs' leadership - they had the inside information and based on their evaluations, they said they were not worried about Baldwin's personality.
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