Updates from Monday, Aug. 18
Matthews was asked after Monday's practice if there is a significant adjustment from right to left.
'Yes, the stagger changes,' he said. 'You go for a long time used to bracing a guy with one leg back. And now you've got to flip it around. It's like almost going from writing with your right hand to your left hand. But I did it in college. I feel pretty comfortable on both sides.'
Updates from Sunday, Aug. 17
The Falcons confirmed Sam Baker's injury and that he will miss the season:
Offensive lineman Sam Baker will miss the 2014 season after suffering a torn patellar tendon last night: http://t.co/kqMtWoBjZe— Atlanta_Falcons (@Atlanta_Falcons) August 17, 2014
The early diagnosis for #Falcons LT Sam Baker is a torn patella tendon, per source. If tests confirm, would almost certainly end his season— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) August 17, 2014
With #Falcons LT Sam Baker likely out for the season with a torn patella, plan to put rookie Jake Matthews at LT is accelerated. Big test— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) August 17, 2014
Head coach Mike Smith spoke of that possibility following Saturday's game, via D. Orlando Ledbetter of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
I don’t want to speculate in terms of what we would do. We’d have a number of options. Again, our number one goal would be to put the five best offensive linemen out there. We obviously know that he’s one of the five best because he’s a starter. Is he our best left tackle? Is he our best option? That’s something we’ll have to determine if we have to address that.
Tests confirmed the initial diagnosis, per ESPN's Adam Schefter:
Tests confirmed Falcons OT Sam Baker ruptured right patella tendon, and will be lost for season. Last year he ruptured left patella tendon.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 17, 2014
Atlanta Falcons starting left tackle Sam Baker left the team's preseason contest on Saturday night against the Houston Texans after suffering an apparent knee injury. D. Orlando Ledbetter of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution tweeted the tackle's reaction when he went down:
#Falcons LT Sam Baker is emotional. He knows something is wrong.— D. Orlando Ledbetter (@DOrlandoAJC) August 17, 2014
NFL on ESPN expanded on the injury and noted Baker needed to be carted off the field:
Not good news for the Falcons. Starting LT Sam Baker has to be carted off. Initial word is hyperextended right knee (via @vxmcclure23)— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) August 17, 2014
Shortly after, Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com made it known Baker would not be returning:
Baker officially ruled out for game— vaughn mcclure (@vxmcclure23) August 17, 2014
This comes as terrible news for a Falcons offensive line that gave up a total of 44 sacks last season. Much of that was due to the absence of Baker, who played in just four games in 2013 due to left knee issues.
Atlanta did select Jake Matthews in the first round of the 2014 NFL draft in hopes that he will be the team's future starter at left tackle; however, he is currently being groomed at right tackle.
Greg A. Bedard of TheMMQB.com noted the significance of Baker's injury for the rookie:
With Falcons LT Sam Baker being carted off, shouldn't be long before Jake Matthews gets his shot over there next week.— Greg A. Bedard (@GregABedard) August 17, 2014
We'll find out Baker's diagnosis—and Matthews' potential new role for the season—in short order.