FLOWERY BRANCH – Falcons left tackle Sam Baker is taking a lot of heat from from you all after his performance against the Eagles and defensive end Trent Cole.
“Yeah, towards the end of the game I finally got it together, but it was a long day for sure against Trent,” Baker said on Wednesday.
It must be noted that with the game on the line, Baker won his battles in the two 80-yard drives to win the game. Also, Baker is a stand up guy and addressed his plight and noted that the offensive line is under pressure from the coaches to firm-up the passing pocket.
The offensive line has been taking some heat for giving up nine sacks and 17 hits on quarterback Matt Ryan.
Ryan’s ability to withstand the hits caused Falcons coach Mike Smith to call him “One tough Irishman.”
Baker said the coaches have turned the heat up on the offensive line, which may get center Todd McClure back this week.
“We’ve been sweating ourselves and we don’t want to get him hit either,” said Baker. “We really have to pull it together and really firm it up so that he can make plays.”
Last season, the line gave up just 23 sacks and the offensive line was a finalist for the Madden most valuable protectors award, which goes to the NFL’s best offensive line.
Right guard Harvey Dahl has been replaced in the lineup by Garrett Reynolds and Joe Hawley has started the first two games at center for McClure.
Baker didn’t want to use the lockout as an excuse.
“I don’t know what that is,” Baker said. “But we definitely have to get it going here.”
Even though the line struggled in protection at times against the Eagles, the Falcons were 5-for-5 in the redzone.
“That’s a big key for us,” Baker said. “All preseason we were getting down there, but we weren’t really scoring. That was huge for us to get into the end zone.”
After opening the season against Chicago’s Julius Peppers and Cole, Baker will get Tampa Bay rookie Adrian Clayborn this week. Clayborn was the 20th player selected in the 2011 NFL draft.
–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog