ATLANTA — After not practicing Monday and Tuesday left tackle Will Svitek returned to practice Wednesday on a limited basis. He’s listed as questionable for Thursday’s game against Jacksonville.
If Svitek can’t play Thursday night, look for backup left tackle Sam Baker to step in. Remember that Baker was the starter at left tackle until injuries forced him out and Svitek took over.
Svitek did such a good job as a replacement for Baker that Svitek kept the job, even when Baker was able to return.
Last Sunday at Carolina Baker entered the game, but it wasn’t for Svitek. Baker came in to replace Joe Hawley at right guard. Hawley wasn’t injured, head coach Mike Smith said it was a scheme change. In that particular instance the Falcons coaching staff thought Baker, who had never played at guard in his professional or collegiate career, was a better choice than Hawley.
Matt Ryan was abruptly sacked in the end zone for a safety.
Smith said the team had been working with Baker for weeks in practice at guard and he may provide relief at both tackle and guard moving forward.
“When you have seven guys active on the roster on game day, you’ve got to have guys that are cross-trained,” said Smith. “Right now, Svitek is playing left tackle so the two guys that are not starters have to have the ability to rotate and play different positions.”
That means if Svitek plays Thursday at left tackle, Baker could see time in relief at both tackle and guard.
“We wanted to give Sam an opportunity to go in there and play in the ballgame,” said Smith. “We’re not discounting that that won’t happen again. We are always going to put the best five out there and the other two guys are going to be our rotation guys and that’s really what’s transpired right now.”