Falcons’ Wes Schweitzer ready if Alex Mack can’t play

Wes Schweitzer #71 of the Atlanta Falcons snaps the ball in the first quarter during a preseason game against the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium on August 8, 2019 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
Wes Schweitzer #71 of the Atlanta Falcons snaps the ball in the first quarter during a preseason game against the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium on August 8, 2019 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)

Credit: Mark Brown

Credit: Mark Brown

The Falcons could be without Pro Bowl center Alex Mack when they face the Houston Texans at 1 p.m. Sunday at NRG Stadium in Houston.

Mack suffered an elbow injury in a 24-10 loss to the Titans on Sunday. He returned to the game, but had his left arm heavily taped. Mack did not practice Wednesday.

Wes Schweitzer, a sixth-round pick in 2016, took over for Mack against the Titans and may have to start against a stout Texans defensive front.

When asked about the Texans’ front, Schweitzer said, “We’re playing the Texans.”

Schweitzer, who isn’t very chatty with the media, has played left guard, right guard and center, but mostly left guard. In college at San Jose State, he was a tackle.

Schweitzer didn’t play in any games as a rookie as he he was converted to a guard. In 2017, he started 16 games at right guard. Last season he started 13 of 15 games at left guard. This season, he’s played right guard and center with no starts.

“Wes has done a good job for us,” Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan said. “I’ve gotten a lot of work with him at center in the time that he’s been here in different practices through the (exhibition) season. A little bit (Wednesday) at practice, which was good.”

While the Falcons attempted to revamp their offensive line over the offseason by drafting two linemen in the first round and signing James Carpenter and Jamon Brown in free agency, Schweitzer earned a spot on the 53-man roster as the backup center and swing guard.

Chris Lindstrom, the No. 14 overall pick, suffered a foot injury in the season opener and was placed on injured reserve. Brown took over at right guard.

Against the Titans, Brown suffered a concussion and is in the NFL’s concussion protocol. If Mack and Brown can’t play against the Texans, the Falcons could start Carpenter at left guard, Schweitzer at center and Ty Sambrailo at right guard.

“He’s a pro’s pro,” Ryan said of Schweitzer. “He’s a guy that we’ve asked to play right guard, left guard and center at different points throughout his career. He’s always on top of his game plan. He knows his assignments. Goes out there and does a nice job for us.”

While Schweitzer hasn’t started the past three seasons as a starter, he’s continued to work his way into a role on the team.

“No. 1, having good versatility,” coach Dan Quinn said. “It’s been evident that we needed that depth so far to have talented guys to step in and fill where needed. That certainly was the case when Chris went down. We moved Jamon into that spot. When Jamon was injured in the game we had to go through that again.”

Stacking some offensive line depth was the Falcons’ major offseason project.

“Having at depth at that position, hopefully you don’t want to get in to that space where you have to (use it) and lose some of the continuity,” Quinn said. “But it’s an important piece to what we want to do offensively.”

Schweitzer have proved to be dependable.

“Wes is definitely somebody at two spots that we always count on,” Quinn said. “He played the game (against Tennessee) at guard and center.”

The Falcons are set to face Houston’s dynamic defensive end J.J. Watt and outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus. Watt has three sacks, and Mercilus has five.

If Schweitzer, who’s 6-4 and 300 pounds, is at center, he’ll have to battle with Houston nose tackle D.J. Reader, who’s 6-4 and 347 pounds and has 1.5 sacks on the season.

“It’s really the front seven, but (Watt is) the center piece, and on the other side they’ve done a good job of forcing turnovers,” Quinn said. “Mercilus might have four forced fumbles. He’s really been active with the ball. At any time, that’s where you start.”

The Texans will move Watt around the line.

“He’ll line up at defensive end, he’ll line up at defensive tackle, at a number of different spots,” Quinn said. “He can be a factor in both the run game and the pass game. So we have our work cut out for us to sure. ... He’s definitely a player that deserves special attention.”


Subscribe to "The Bow Tie Chronicles" podcast with the AJC's D. Orlando Ledbetter on iTunes or on the new AJC sports podcasts page.

In Other News