Playing 27 of 88 snaps against the Buffalo Bills, offensive tackle Ryan Schraeder relieved starter Jeremy Trueblood, as coach Mike Smith continues with his youth movement in preparing to see who can contribute heading into next season. With Schraeder going undrafted to seeing extensive playing time down the stretch for the Atlanta Falcons, he will have the opportunity to play for the Falcons in the long-run.
Once considered an afterthought even after the Falcons added the 25-year-old rookie to the active roster, Schraeder has not only been impressive in the limited amount of action he has taken in, but he has the attention of the offensive line coach Pat Hill.
“I got to see him earlier in the year because I was watching another guy from there who got drafted by Carolina, the [Ghanaian-born] kid here from Atlanta,” Hill said according to ESPN. “I was looking at him and kept noticing the left tackle, Schraeder. And I didn’t say anything about it at the time just because we weren’t really in the market for an offensive tackle.”
How quickly things have changed for the Falcons, as they are in a state of emergency when it comes to finding quality players on the offensive line. Once considered to be a strength for the team, over the past couple of years, the Falcons’ offensive line has gone from Orlando Pace-good to not-being-able-to-block-anybody bad.
Against the Bills, the Falcons allowed Matt Ryan to get sacked a season-high six times, although the Falcons played one of their best games of the year. With the offensive line having so many question marks and obvious holes to fill, youngsters like Schraeder will have a chance to earn a roster spot for next season.
Schraeder’s journey to the NFL may have gone to the next level, as the pressure is on him to establish himself as a player that the Falcons can consider keeping after enduring a tough, tough season.
“It feels good but, at the same time, a lot of work has to be done,” Schraeder said via ESPN. “You just have to keep progressing and keep doing what you can when you get out there. You have to make plays when you can, do your job, and don’t let your guy make the play.”
As the Falcons prepare for their next game against the Green Bay Packers, Schraeder can expect to see a huge chunk of playing time. What he does with the opportunities given to him is all on his shoulders. So far, Schraeder has a great story to him, and the way it finishes depends solely on him.
His future, according to the coaching staff of the Falcons, seems to be bright. As with many players, many have great potential, but only a few are able to achieve it. It will be up to Schraeder to decide which one he chooses to be.