Updated: Svitek to remain starter at left tackle; Baker had surgery

Will Svitek will remain the starter at left tackle although Sam Baker has returned from a back injury.

Will Svitek will remain the starter at left tackle although Sam Baker has returned from a back injury.

FLOWERY BRANCH – Will Svitek will remain as the Falcons starter at left tackle. Coach Mike Smith made the depth chart change official Wednesday.

Svitek took over at left tackle when Sam Baker, who started the seasons’ first six games, missed four games with a back injury. Baker was activated for last week’s game against the Vikings but played only on special teams.

“It’s good to be at one spot,” Svitek said. “Before I moved around between the different tackle positions, a little guard, special teams, tight end. Definitely it’s an advantage playing at one spot right now.

“It’s great from a physical standpoint and a mental standpoint. Mentally I can just focus on the plays at left [tackle] and look at the different [defensive] looks that I will get. From a physical standpoint, switching sides changes your footwork. People don’t always realize that.”

Falcons coach Mike Smith said the decision was made because Baker is still not 100 percent recovered from back surgery performed during the Falcons bye week. The team previously did not reveal that Baker had surgery, his second in four seasons. Baker had a discectomy, a procedure on herniated disc material in his lower back to relieve pain in his hip, as a rookie.

“Will has been very consistent over the last four to five ball games,” Smith said. “I think we have done some things schematically to help us. I think our protections have helped us improve. The arrow has been going up. It’s much better than at the start of the season.”

Svitek has faced stiff competition protecting quarterback Matt Ryan’s blindside over the past five games. He has not allowed a sack despite going up against Detroit’s Kyle Vanden Bosch, Indianapolis’ Dwight Freeney, New Orleans’ Will Smith, Tennessee’s Jason Jones and Minnesota’s Jared Allen.

“It’s a big responsibility, just like every position on the line,” Svitek said. “You take a lot of pride in keeping Matt clean. It’s a challenge every week and I try to do my best. … It’s definitely been a crazy stretch. That’s the nature of the business at left tackle. Everyone seems like they have a great pass rusher.”

Svitek (6-foot-6, 308) is in this third season with the Falcons after signing as a free agent in 2009. In six seasons, including three with Kansas City, Svitek has appeared in 56 games, including 11 starts.

Baker was a first-round selection, No. 21 overall, by the Falcons in 2008. He has appeared in 45 regular-season games, including 41 starts. He started all 16 games last season. Baker was a limited participate in Wednesday’s practice.

In case you missed it, click here to read the very good piece Steve Hummer did on Svitek last month.

– Chris Vivlamore, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog

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26 comments Add your comment


November 30th, 2011
3:58 pm

Thank goodness! He has alot to do with Ryan’s improvement throwing long.


November 30th, 2011
4:01 pm

Going to have to score more with Grimes out with surgery for weeks.

Keeping it Real

November 30th, 2011
4:03 pm

Mountain Jim: Haven’t heard that. What have you got?


November 30th, 2011
4:04 pm

The Silver man

November 30th, 2011
4:21 pm

With Svitek starting at tackle is there any chance they would consider trying Baker at guard?


November 30th, 2011
4:34 pm

I’m sure the AJC will have a post or article up soon about Grimes



November 30th, 2011
4:46 pm

This is the perferct opportunity to move T-Rex arms to right guard (his natural position) Sam Baker is better suited to play guard and having Sam Baker as the jump tackle/right guard puts our entire line in a better position to protect the quarterback. Hey, lets face it, Sam Baker’s arms simply were not long enough to play left tackle but I do feel that Sam Baker has the speed to pull at guard and get to the second level on some linebackers.


November 30th, 2011
5:00 pm

Baker should be given the opportunity to compete for the right guard position, he gave everything he had at left tackle, it just wasn’t his position. I really can’t imagine the Falcons not trying him their.

Congrats to Svitek, he’s done a great job and will only get better.


November 30th, 2011
5:01 pm

I’ve been quite (pleasantly) surprised that Svitek hasn’t had any struggles moving in to the starting postiion. That one incident of stepping on Matty’s foot aside, Svitek has been solid at LT.


November 30th, 2011
5:10 pm

Falcons 4 Real

November 30th, 2011
5:11 pm

Svitek’s been a great story. Last year he looked like he was strictly a RT but he’s looked very comfortable playing LT this season. That’s a very impressive lineup of DE’s he’s stymied. If he can just walk on opposing defenses and not our QB again we’ll all be grateful.
The story of his family’s escape from Yugoslavia is really touching piece. Anyone who doesn’t know should take the time to read it, it’s well worth it.

True Falcon Fan

November 30th, 2011
5:25 pm

Only a trap game if the coaches allow it to be!

True Falcon Fan

November 30th, 2011
5:28 pm

We’ll see how BVG has the defense set and for TJ Yates & company, It’s special teams “coach” i’m concerned about?????????

Injury Bug

November 30th, 2011
5:32 pm

Nibble nibble nibble- I still got some Failcans left to bite this year which means no playoffs for you


November 30th, 2011
7:01 pm

Great move. Award players for doing a good job and not for being a high draft pick. Svitek has done an excellent job!

Unca' Bob

November 30th, 2011
7:29 pm


A very good write up. Steve Hummer’s Time line presentation was excellent as well. Thank you both.


November 30th, 2011
8:30 pm

Svitek for the Pro-Bowl!


November 30th, 2011
8:31 pm

I just hope BVG’s defense doesn’t come out and make Yates look All-Word like they usually do. Shut the man down. Stop the weak azz zone coverage BVG!


November 30th, 2011
8:33 pm

It pisses me off to see QB’s continually complete passes on 3rd and long. There’s nothing worse. And more importantly, we need a better pass rush. We are not getting to the QB and if we do, we don’t bring him down. You gotta bring him down. I always have, and still say we need to switch to a 3-4 defense. Get a big body in the middle and shut people down. Play bump and run, man to man coverage and smother offenses. But noooooooo…

captain ATL

November 30th, 2011
8:52 pm

We will miss Grimes in coverage as well as against the run. He may not make a lot of tackles in the run game, but he sniffs it out, gets to the outside and turns it in to the Spoons and Nicholas’s to shut down. Owens, Franks, and Walls are going to be totally locked in on the pass game and we may be a step away on stretch runs.


November 30th, 2011
11:01 pm

Keep up the good work Svitek. You earned it!!!


December 1st, 2011
10:03 am

How can a game against a 1st place team, the best running back in the league and a #1 ranked defense be a trap game?

You think they’d ignore Arian Foster, Andre Johnson et al because Matt Schaub is out? Really? REALLY?

Falcon Freddy

December 1st, 2011
10:40 am

I Agree Jamaaliver, definitely not a trap game. They are still the #1 Seed in the AFC and we need to view them as such. But if we get them down we need to keep our foot on their neck and snap it like a chicken neck.



December 1st, 2011
12:04 pm

“Baker was activated for last week’s game against the Vikings but played only on special teams.”

So that explains the Vikings 104 yard return…

Sam Bakers Arms

December 1st, 2011
2:11 pm

Enter your comments here


December 1st, 2011
4:47 pm

He’s doing a great job! But why do you have to go all the way back in the archives to get a photo of him in a 2010 pre-season game against San Diego (above)? Surely you could use one from the last couple weeks??