Sitting on a 2-7 record after receiving a punishing beat down by the Seattle Seahawks with a 33-10 loss, the Atlanta Falcons have weathered some of the worst storms a football team can endure. While the Falcons were hoping to see some daylight in a dark tunnel as they face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-8), they will have to wait for better days as the Falcons lost one of their best offensive linemen in Sam Baker.
The Falcons placed Baker on injured reserve due to a lingering left knee injury that will keep him out for the rest of the year, as it will require surgery sometimes in the nearby future.
Although the Falcons activated star linebacker Sean Weatherspoon off of the injured reserve, the Dirty Birds will be trading out one of their best players for another, which has become the theme for this injury-savaged team. With Baker missing his fifth game of the season, coach Mike Smith expressed concerns for the long-term health for his offensive tackle.
“Sam has been dealing with the knee all season long,’’ Smith said according to ajc.com. “He’s fighting through it. We got him back (at Carolina) after a four- or five-week period of allowing him to rest and he wasn’t ready to go this week. It is a concern. When you can’t go out and play consecutive games, you have to be concerned about it.”
The Falcons will have second-year player Lamar Holmes take the vacant left tackle spot in place of the injured Baker, but with Holmes struggling all year long, the Falcons’ depleted offensive line will have to find a way adjusting to life without one of their better players.
Throughout his career with the Falcons, Baker has played in all 16 games just twice, most recently the 2012 year. After the Falcons locked him up with a contract extension, the only thing Baker could do consistently was have his name appear on the injury report with various injuries that included his left knee and foot.
Drafted in the same year the team selected franchise quarterback Matt Ryan
back in the 2008 NFL Draft
, they thought they found a franchise tackle to be Ryan’s blind-side pass protector for years to come. In his four games this year, Baker has shown inconsistency, especially in the pass protection.
For the Falcons, injuries continues to decimate them, as it has literally limited their ability to even compete at a level fans are expected to see from the Dirty Birds. While on the surface, the Falcons may have become numb due to all the injuries they have experienced, their overall effort on the field has shown the destructiveness and inability to perform at a high level because of all their missing players.
Even though the Falcons’ season feels like an eternity so far, fans will have to be patient, as they will witness a team that may be one of the worst in the league. For all the Super Bowl hype, this season has been a tough one to swallow.