After winning 13 games in 2012, the Falcons stumbled to 4-12 last year, in large part due to injuries that ravaged both sides of the ball.
Well, those injuries have struck again, and the latest one was a whopper.
As the AP reported (via USA Today), left tackle Sam Baker will miss the entire 2014 season after tearing his ACL in last week's blowout loss to the Houston Texans.
That means rookie first-round pick Jake Matthews, who was slated to kick to right tackle, will now be forced to flip back to his collegiate position.
While speaking with Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com, Matthews admitted that all this flip-flopping presents a challenge, but the former Texas A&M star said it's a challenge he's up to:
Yes, the stagger changes. 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.
Head coach Mike Smith also expressed confidence in Matthews, stating flatly, "I don't think he'll blink. We're not."
The injury bug also hit the Tennessee Titans last week, but unlike the Falcons, the Titans appear to have caught a break.
Veteran running back Shonn Greene, who has been surprisingly effective in holding off rookie Bishop Sankey to start for new head coach Ken Whisenhunt, also suffered a knee injury in last week's game.
Unlike Baker, though, Greene told the AP (via The Paris Post-Intelligencer) that he's OK. "It was just a bang-bang thing," Greene said. "I just kind of hit on the turf, and it got bent and I was all right."
Greene's injury afforded Sankey a shot to impress the coaches, but the youngster squandered the chance by losing a fumble.
Still, Whisenhunt told Terry McCormick of The Daily Herald he's not worried about Sankey being fumble-prone:
He needs to get as many reps as he can from the standpoint of what he has to do. Protections, and then obviously with putting the ball on the ground, those are things (he needs to work on). He’s not a fumbler, he was not that in college. It’s technique things, it’s footwork things where he hasn’t gotten a lot of reps at those, and that can mess with you when you’re trying to think about your footwork and not focusing on some of your other things.
Saturday's matchup with a shaky Atlanta defense affords Sankey an excellent opportunity to get back on the right track, even if Greene draws the start.