FLOWERY BRANCH – Falcons starting left tackle Sam Baker missed his second day of practice with a lower back injury on Thursday.
If Baker is not ready to play against the Detroit Lions on Sunday, Will Svitek would get the start.
Baker had been playing well after a slow start to the season. He had tough matchups in the opener against Chicago’s Julius Peppers and in the second game against Philadelphia’s Trent Cole.
After the line had given up 13 sacks in the first three games, Falcons coach Mike Smith said the staff was considering shaking up the starting line. The week before the Seattle game, Baker and Svitek were splitting time with the first-team.
When the Falcons got off to a good start and jumped out to a 27-7 lead against Seattle, the staff decided not to make any major personnel changes.
Smith has said that the offense has had to make some “schematic” changes to protect Ryan. They are throwing off of fewer five- and seven-step drops, rolling Ryan out some and leaving in running backs or tight ends to help chip block.
Svitek comes in to block as a tight end in some of the Falcons’ power formations. He was originally with Kansas City. The Falcons signed him Feb. 12, 2009.
He has played in 57 games and made six starts. He started two games for the Falcons in 2009.
Also, wide receiver Julio Jones did not practice on Thursday. The team hopes that he can play on Sunday. They’ll have designate his chance of playing in Friday’s injury report. He hasn’t practiced since before the Green Bay game.
Cornerback Christopher Owens (concussion) didn’t practice.
John Abraham (groin), Todd McClure (knee) and Garrett Reynolds (ankle) returned to practice, but were limited. James Sanders (hamstring) practiced for the second consecutive day and was limited.
Jonathan Babineaux (knee), Tony Gonzalez (elbow) and Roddy White (knee) were full.