Falcons’ new/old blocker is a quiet, brainy guy

Falcons' Wes Schweitzer discusses starting for the injured Andy Levitre. (Video by D. Orlando Ledbetter)

As Schweitzer moves back into the lineup, maybe he’ll be better on the left side

Things will be different Sunday when the Falcons strap up and charge at the Saints, but maybe not that much, really, at least for Wes Schweitzer – the ultimate, uber-smart plodder.

He’ll just keep doing what he does, like Forrest Gump kept running across the country, although he’ll have you know that his changes in ZIP code matter not.

The Falcons’ not-so-new left guard has been there before, albeit for a brief mail drop, but he’s been in the state for a while now and this won’t be by any stretch the first time he’ll be asked to deliver in weather.

When Andy Levitre vaporized out of Sunday’s game against the Panthers with an early biceps injury, hardly anybody noticed that the left guard was gone.

That’s both because nobody watches guards, and a certain former college left tackle blocked his tail feathers off as the Falcons’ offensive line stubbed Carolina’s highly respected front seven on the way to a 31-24 win at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

You’d never know that Schweitzer graduated from San Jose State with a degree in chemistry unless you looked him up, nor that he’s spent tons of time in research laboratories because he doesn’t have much to say about all that.

Or anything.

He just plays.

It’s hard to know much about this guy, other than the fact that he does not appear to enjoy talking to media about his work.

In perhaps the first true news conference of his professional life, on Wednesday he said, “Just like any other week, I’m trying to do my best. . . . Just trying to whatever role the team wants me to perform, whether I’m the backup or the starter, just trying to do my best.”

One of his college professors, Kenneth Youngman, in 2016 told ESPN, “If I were drafting for a biology graduate student team, I would pick Wes in the first round ... This young man did not go looking for an easy class to take during the summer.

“He chose one of the most demanding classes offered at San Jose State, requiring three hours a week of class time and a minimum of nine hours a week study time on top of summer football practice and a part-time job. He never missed a class and earned an A.’’

Schweitzer make a few comments after the Falcons drafted him in the sixth round and began converting him from tackle to guard. Again last summer, when he beat out Ben Garland to become the team’s starting right guard after Chris Chester retired, he threw a scant few comments into the universe.

But generally speaking, Schweitzer doesn’t want to talk about that.

He’s had little choice but to comment this week, and that’s not new.

His second answer Wednesday was, “Just keep working hard and hopefully come with your best attitude every day, and you’ll just get better every day and hopefully it will show on the field.”

Coach Dan Quinn has more to say about Schweitzer, who competed for the starting right guard position with newcomer Brandon Fusco, the Falcons’ headline offseason signing in free agency.

The coach has said several times that Schweitzer improved significantly through offseason work.

“When Wes stepped in for Andy we certainly knew what to expect for a guy who had really put the time in,” Quinn said. “This summer, the battle that he had in him with Brandon to get going, we knew if he was going to go in the game he would be ready."

Schweitzer started all 16 games for the Falcons last season, and he drew fire as the Falcons’ offensive numbers rolled back from 2016.

Maybe he’ll be better, maybe he already is, on the left side of the line, where he played in college.

Matter of fact, Schweitzer seemed to open up a little when asked about the differences about playing on one side of the line of scrimmage vs. the other regardless of the tackle-guard thing.

“Your balance with your feet and mechanics, what foot is back (particularly in pass protection), what hand is down, not too much difference,” he said.

Schweitzer is getting help.

He’s worked game situations before aside before Pro Bowl center Alex Mack, obviously, and while he’s new against left tackle Jake Matthews there’s a whole lot of familiarity born out of meeting rooms.

Those guys are acting like they’re cool with everything.

“Wes is a pro. He’s going to be ready to go,” Matthews said. “That’s the thing about our group. All of the guys are capable of going in and performing when called upon. We are just going to keep working hard and preparing like we always do. We feel good about it.”

Mack said, “Communication-wise, it affects it. It’s a different guy. There’s a couple different things you block, but all through training camp ... the backups are always moving in there ... it’s really not that different.”

Schweitzer may fret media, but he doesn’t seem to be worried about folding into the Falcons’ offensive line.

“Jake and Alex did a great job in the game bringing me along,” he said of the game against the Panthers. “I only have so much experience playing at left guard. They’re really, really good players, you know, so that’s going to help. It’s the same plays, just flipped to the other side.”