Smith doesn’t rule out moving Matthews to left tackle

With left tackle Sam Baker going down with what appeared to be a serious knee injury, the Falcons will consider moving prized rookie Jake Matthews to left tackle.

In the 32-7 loss to the Texans, Baker, who was coming back from right knee surgery, was taken off the field when his right knee buckled. Several veteran onlookers said the injury appeared to be hyper-extension with possible ligament damage.

The Falcons who had access state of the art medical equipment in the stadium and had an initial diagnosis, wouldn’t reveal the extent or nature of Baker’s injury.

“In terms of Sam Baker, I don’t have an update,” Falcons coach Mike Smith said. “We’ll have more information in the next 24 hours and as soon as we do, we’ll let you guys know.”

Normally, if a player is out for the season, Smith will announce the injury. If the player has a chance to return, Smith will minimally report to comply with the league’s injury reporting rules.

Left guard Justin Blalock talked to Baker after the game and seem to give hope that the team would know more later in the week about Baker’s status.

“It was tough,” Blalock said. “Obviously, I can’t discuss the injury. I’m not a doctor. I guess we’ll see sometimes later this week about what his status is.”

The Falcons sent in Lamar Holmes to replace Baker. Holmes started 15 games last season, most of them at left tackle after Baker went down.

Smith seemed open to moving Matthews to left tackle if Baker is out of the season.

“I don’t want to speculate in terms of what we would do,” Smith said. “We’d have a number of options. Again, our number one goal would be to put the five best offensive linemen out there. We obviously know that he’s one of the five best because he’s a starter. Is he our best left tackle? Is he our best option? That’s something we’ll have to determine if we have to address that.”

Matthews had a strong outing after having two penalties in his NFL debut against Miami.

“I thought Jake did some good things,” Smith said. “He had some tough battles, but I thought he did a nice job. He’s going to be a good player in this league.”

Several players took their helmets off and watched on one-knee as Baker was helped and driven off the field.

“It’s tough,” quarterback Matt Ryan said. “I don’t know the severity of Sam’s injury. We’ll have to see how that shakes out. You don’t want to see anybody go down, especially in the (exhibition) season. It’s part of the deal, buy it’s not one of the things you like seeing as a player.”

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