FLOWERY BRANCH — Falcons left tackle Sam Baker will be out three to four weeks with a back injury head coach Mike Smith announced Wednesday.
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, Smith said the staff was considering shaking up the starting line. The week before the Seattle game, Baker and Will 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. Svitek started for Baker against Detroit in the Falcons game on Oct. 23.
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 was originally with Kansas City. The Falcons signed him Feb. 12, 2009.
Baker has a history of back problems. He had a discectomy, a surgical procedure on herniated disc material in his lower back in an attempt to relieve pain in his hip during his rookie year. He elected to have that surgery in California.
In the wake of Baker’s injury and the lost of guard Mike Johnson (foot), the Falcons signed five-year veteran Kirk Chambers on Oct. 25. He will serve as a backup at guard and tackle.
When he was a rookie Baker saw specialists in New York and California.
Baker, a first-round draft pick chosen 21st overall in the 2008 draft, opened the season as the starting left tackle.
–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog