Multiple reports have Sam Baker's injury serious enough where he will miss the entire 2014 season. The details have not been officially released by the team, but numerous reports have the injury as a torn patella tendon.
While some may not cry that Baker will be gone, it is a major blow for an offensive line that was looking good so far in the preseason. Baker had gotten beat twice by rookie star Jadeveon Clowney, but he was a veteran the Falcons were counting on to protect Matt Ryan's blind side as the left offensive tackle.
Baker has not been able to stay healthy in his career. The 29-year-old has played in 16 games just twice in his six-year career. He was in four games last season, the year after the Falcons had given Baker a new long-term contract.
So now what? What will the Falcons do with the all-important left tackle gone for the year? Well, the first and easiest answer would be to slide rookie Jake Matthews from right tackle to left tackle. Most believe he's destined to be there eventually anyway. Expect the Falcons to move him there this week in practice. If it's not too much on Matthews, he will probably start at left tackle next Saturday against Tennessee.
But then the Falcons will need a new right tackle. Lamar Holmes started last season at right tackle but moved over to left tackle after Baker's injury. He started 15 games last season between the two positions.
Ryan Schraeder started the final three games of last season at right tackle. There's also Gabe Cirimi, signed as a free agent over the offseason. Mike Johnson was scheduled to be the right tackle to start last season, but an injury killed his 2013 campaign.
The Falcons will undoubtedly scour the waiver wire the next few days to see any linemen that might be available. There may be a trade possibility out there as well, since the Falcons are reportedly $9 million under the salary cap for the season.
Either way, the expected line of scrimmage for this season has already been scrapped. The next few weeks will determine how the Falcons handle the latest tough loss to the left tackle position.
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