2015 DRAFT GUIDE
Falcons shift Matthews to left tackle for Baker

By PAUL NEWBERRY - AP Sports Writer
    2014-08-18 17:34

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) - When the Atlanta Falcons drafted Jake Matthews, they figured he would take over at left tackle someday.

They didn't expect it to be this soon.

Midway through his first NFL preseason, the Falcons shifted Matthews across the line on Monday to replace Sam Baker, who went down with a season-ending knee injury.

Matthews, the No. 6 overall pick, was expected to break into the league at right tackle, a less-demanding position than protecting quarterback Matt Ryan's blind side.

Now, the rookie will have to step up to the challenge right away.

''I think the coaches are going to put me in good situations,'' Matthews said. ''If I keep getting reps, I'll be ready to go.''

Baker sustained a torn patellar tendon in his right knee during a 32-7 loss to the Houston Texans in a preseason game last Saturday night, hindering Atlanta's plans for revamping the offensive line.

The team struggled mightily up front last season, a big reason the Falcons ranked last in the league in rushing and gave up 44 sacks, the most in Ryan's career.

Not surprisingly, the Falcons used their top draft pick on Matthews and signed free agent Jon Asamoah, another instant starter at right guard. Baker, a former first-round pick who played only four games last season because of a knee injury, also was part of the rebuilding effort.

Coach Mike Smith tried to put the best face on Baker going down again.

''As soon as we had confirmation that Sam wasn't going to be able to play anymore this season, it's an easy switch,'' Smith said. ''Jake is a No. 1 pick, the sixth pick in the draft, he's got left tackle written all over him.''

Former starter Lamar Holmes, who had been listed as Baker's backup, moved over to take Matthews' spot on the right side. Gabe Carimi and Ryan Schraeder will compete for playing time as well, though Carimi is banged up at the moment.

''You just flip your mind, get over to that other side, and continue to play fast,'' said Holmes, who started 15 games last season - essentially because the team had few other choices - but has yet to show he can handle a first-team job.

The Falcons have no such concerns about Matthews, who played left tackle at Texas A&M and was projected to take over that position at some point in the NFL.

''Jake is comfortable playing both right and left,'' Smith said. ''I don't think he'll blink. We're not.''

Even so, the newest version of the offensive line got a lot of attention at its first practice together. During one drill, assistant coach Mike Tice shouted instructions while Smith and general manager Thomas Dimitroff stood nearby, watching intently.

''Look how big a hole you're leaving with your feet,'' Tice barked to a lineman. ''Come on, man, details.''

Matthews knows there will be an adjustment period as he makes the switch, especially since he's only played two preseason games. He'll have to switch up his footwork to get blocking leverage off his left leg instead of his right.

''It's almost like going from your right hand to your left,'' Matthews said. ''But I did them both in college. I feel pretty comfortable on both sides.''

His job going forward it to make sure Ryan feels comfortable with a rookie protecting his back side.

''Honestly, it's not that big a difference for me,'' Matthews said. ''I put a lot of pressure on myself to do well. Whether it's on the right or left side, I put just as much pressure on myself.''

NOTES: The Falcons officially placed Baker on injured reserve and signed OT Pat McQuistan. The 317-pound McQuistan has played in 72 games with 11 starts over a career that includes stints with Dallas, Miami, New Orleans and Arizona. ... Smith said the competition is heating up at nickel back, a position filled the last two years by Robert McClain. Josh Wilson came aboard after starting every game the last three seasons for Washington. Another newcomer, Javier Arenas, will likely get more of a chance to show what he can do in Saturday's preseason game against Tennessee.

---

AP NFL websites: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

---

Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Tom BradyJul 27 02:02p

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady's appeal of his four-game suspension still has not been announced, and the NFL is now open to talking with the NFL Players Association [ More ]

Doug MartinJul 27 12:02p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Doug Martin could be in line for a big, bounce-back year, in the opinion of beat writer Roy Cummings.

Casey MatthewsJul 27 09:12a

Minnesota Vikings LB Casey Matthews (hip) was placed on season-ending Injured Reserve due to a hip injury Sunday, July 26.

Casey MatthewsJul 26 02:52p

Minnesota Vikings LB Casey Matthews (hip) has been placed on injured reserve due to a hip injury that occurred during the team's offseason program.

Blair WalshJul 26 02:32p

Minnesota Vikings PK Blair Walsh signed a four-year contract extension Sunday, July 26, worth $14 million. The deal includes $5.25 million in guaranteed money.

Gosder CherilusJul 26 12:32p

Indianapolis Colts OT Gosder Cherilus was released Sunday, July 26.

Percy HarvinJul 25 09:22p

Buffalo Bills WR Percy Harvin required detailed instruction on how to run routes during OTAs, and Vic Carucci of the Buffalo News believes Harvin will open the year as [ More ]

DeAngelo WilliamsJul 25 08:12p

Pittsburgh Steelers RB DeAngelo Williams is not receiving any first-team reps despite RB Le'Veon Bell facing a three-game suspension, head coach Mike Tomlin said. Tomlin also said he is [ More ]

Jermaine GreshamJul 24 07:22p

Free-agent TE Jermaine Gresham (Bengals) agreed to a one-year deal with the Arizona Cardinals Friday, July 24, according to a source. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Isaiah CrowellJul 24 07:02p

Cleveland Browns RB Duke Johnson will play a prominent role in Cleveland's offense in his rookie year, but RB Isaiah Crowell is still the favorite to start. Johnson is [ More ]

Benjamin WatsonJul 24 06:22p

New Orleans Saints TE Benjamin Watson is slated to start at tight end over TE Josh Hill, according to Mike Triplett of ESPN.com.

Josh FreemanJul 24 04:52p

Miami Dolphins QB Josh Freeman was released Friday, July 24.

Nate WashingtonJul 24 03:52p

Houston Texans WR Nate Washington is projected to be the No. 2 wide receiver behind WR DeAndre Hopkins and ahead of WR Cecil Shorts, according to Tania Ganguli of ESPN.com.

Kelvin BenjaminJul 24 02:32p

Carolina Panthers WR Kelvin Benjamin said he is currently at his playing weight a week before training camp begins. Benjamin said he has changed his conditioning and diet in order to stay in shape.

Junior GaletteJul 24 02:32p

New Orleans Saints LB Junior Galette was released Friday, July 24, according to a source.

Jabari PriceJul 24 02:22p

Minnesota Vikings CB Jabari Price was suspended two games for violating the personal conduct policy.

Derek WolfeJul 24 01:52p

Denver Broncos DE Derek Wolfe was suspended four games by the NFL for testing positive for a performance enhancing drug. Wolfe said he took a medication he didn't know was banned.

Sean SmithJul 24 10:02a

Kansas City Chiefs CB Sean Smith was suspended three games for violating the league's substance-abuse policy.

Michael HillJul 23 05:42p

Washington Redskins RB Michael Hill was waived Thursday, July 23.

Earl ThomasJul 23 12:32p

Seattle Seahawks FS Earl Thomas (shoulder) isn't expected to be cleared for training camp, and his status is questionable for Week 1.

Letroy GuionJul 23 12:02p

Green Bay Packers DT Letroy Guion has been suspended three games Thursday, July 23, for his Feb. 3 arrest. Guion plans to appeal.

Tom BradyJul 23 11:32a

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady was the subject of a settlement offer from the NFL Players Association to the league last week, but the offer was met with [ More ]

Mike TomlinJul 23 10:22a

Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin agreed to an extension Thursday, July 23, through the 2018 season.

Jadeveon ClowneyJul 22 05:12p

Houston Texans LB Jadeveon Clowney (knee) looks spectacular, according to a team doctor. Clowney is seven months removed from microfracture surgery on his knee. It was previously reported that [ More ]

Marqise LeeJul 22 04:42p

Jacksonville Jaguars WR Marqise Lee (knee) is expected to be ready for training camp, according to wide receivers coach Jerry Sullivan. Sullivan added that Lee will be managed in order to preserve his health.

Sam BradfordJul 22 03:32p

Philadelphia Eagles QB Sam Bradford (knee) is expected to be ready to participate once training camp begins. Bradford has been rehabilitating his knee after suffering a second anterior cruciate [ More ]

Tyler EifertJul 22 03:22p

Cincinnati Bengals TE Tyler Eifert could be primed for a breakout season, in the opinion of Paul Dehner Jr. of The Cincinnati Enquirer.

L. TaliaferroJul 22 01:22p

Baltimore Ravens RB Lorenzo Taliaferro is expected to be pushed by RB Javorius Allen for the No. 2 running back job, but he likely will enter training camp as [ More ]

Jermaine GreshamJul 22 12:32p

Free-agent TE Jermaine Gresham (back) met with the Arizona Cardinals Tuesday, July 21, but the two sides have not agreed to a deal at this point. Gresham underwent back [ More ]

Odell Beckham Jr.Jul 22 12:12p

New York Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr. (hamstring) said his hamstring is feeling a lot better than it did earlier this offseason. Beckham missed some of the offseason workouts because of a hamstring problem.

Bishop SankeyJul 22 08:32a

Tennessee Titans RB Bishop Sankey is the odds-on favorite to start in Week 1 because he has a year of experience and a full offseason under his belt.

Justin HunterJul 22 02:02a

Tennessee Titans WR Justin Hunter is expected to take part in training camp when it opens, as the team will let the legal process play out, according to a [ More ]

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2015 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group