- Story Highlights
- A new starting guard for the Atlanta Falcons, Wes Schweitzer struggled in pass protection and as a run blocker...
- Schweitzer allowed one sack, one quarterback hit and one hurry, accounting for three of the four total pressures...
- Schweitzer's 31.7 run-blocking grade ranked 45th of 48 qualifying guards to play before the Sunday night game,...
New starting right guard Wes Schweitzer will be on the spot when the Falcons host the Green Bay Packers on Sunday.
He’ll have to face their massive defensive tackles Mike Daniels and Kenny Clark, fresh off of the dismantling of the interior of Seattle’s offensive line.
Schweitzer, who made his NFL debut against Chicago and had an uneven performance, was not in the mood Wednesday to discuss his improvement plan.
Schweitzer stayed with the short-and-to-the-point answers before turning his back on the media and ending the interview after just 1 minute and 17 seconds. He’ll need to show much better poise against the Packers.
When asked about his play against the Bears, he said, “I’m excited to get another opportunity.”
When further pressed about his struggles, he said, “I’m just going to go out there and play.”
When asked about Daniels and Clark, he said, “It’s a pretty good matchup, and I’m excited for the game.”
When asked if he was scarred by the showing in the Windy City, he said, “I’m doing great. Excited for this next week.”
Schweitzer was drafted in the sixth round of the 2016 draft out of San Jose State, where he played tackle. He didn’t play all of last season, as he was converted to guard.
He beat out Ben Garland for the starting guard spot after Chris Chester retired over the offseason.
Right tackle Ryan Schraeder was in Schweitzer’s shoes in 2013 when he was making the jump from Valdosta State to the NFL. He had some in-game breakdowns, but kept on battling.
He was always gracious, too.
“That’s part of becoming a player in this league,” Schraeder said. “ There are very few guys who come in and are just tearing it up (right away), and don’t go through something tough, or have a bad game, or have a rough quarter or series.”
Schweitzer needs to pick up the pieces and keep it moving.
“It’s part of learning to play, and sometimes you go through it,” Schraeder said. “It’s going to make you a better player, and that’s what I told Wes after the game. I said, ‘Hey, man, you had a few bad plays, move on. You’re going to learn from it. Don’t listen to the outside world; it doesn’t matter. You’re going to come in here and get better this week.’ So that’s what I told him.”
Quarterback Matt Ryan is in Schweitzer’s corner.
“Wes will be fine,” Ryan said. “I think we all had a few plays that we’d like back for sure. Everybody. Year 1. Year 10. Or, first start. There are 100 plays out there. There are a few plays in every game that you’d like to do differently. He had a lot of good plays, too, against a very good front.”
Daniels has seven tackles, 1.5 sacks, four quarterback hits, a tackle for a loss and a forced fumble against Seattle. Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy awarded him a game ball for that dominating performance.
Next up, Schweitzer in his second game in the NFL.
“I think he’ll be ready,” Ryan said. “He’s worked hard. He’s ready for this opportunity. He’s a guy that prepares really hard every week. I expect him to go out there and play well Sunday.”
Falcons coach Dan Quinn has some expectations for Schweitzer.
“Just some real consistency at the offensive line spot,” Quinn said. “It’s one of those positions where you can do it right 50 times and 51 and 52 doesn’t go so good, you talk about the two. That’s the nature of the position. He has to really dial into his consistency.”
Quinn believes the team picked the right guy in the Schweitzer vs. Garland battle.
“It was what he’d shown, the body of work he’s put forth so far in the OTAs, training camp and (exhibition) season games certainly not on just one thing,” Quinn said.
Five other players, made their NFL debuts against the Bears, including first-round pick Takkarist McKinley.
“For me, just keep being aggressive,” McKinley said. “The NFL is grown men playing so for me, I’m still young, 21, and I’ve just got to be aggressive and show that I’m no punk.”
Linebacker Duke Riley started at weakside linebacker.
“I did some good,” Riley said. “I missed some tackles that I have to make, and I’m for sure 100 percent going to get that corrected this week. But overall, I flew around and had fun and that’s what matters. Assignment-wise, I was where I needed to be.”
Tight end Eric Saubert, who’s from Chicago, played on special teams in front of about 60 friends and family members.
“I learned so much just from the older guys and watching film with coach (Wade) Harman,” Saubert said. “I think there’s been huge growth. There’s still a long way to go, but I think just in those four preseason games I learned so much about this game and things I can do to improve.”
Linebacker Jermaine Grace and free safety Damontae Kazee also made their NFL debuts.