Mike Smith supports Sam Baker, Peria Jerry

110812 Atlanta - Atlanta Falcons offensive lineman Sam Baker blocks Miami Dolphins defensive end Jared Odrick giving quarterback Matt Ryan time to pass during 1st quarter action at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Friday, August 12, 2011.      Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com

110812 Atlanta - Atlanta Falcons offensive lineman Sam Baker blocks Miami Dolphins defensive end Jared Odrick giving quarterback Matt Ryan time to pass during 1st quarter action at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Friday, August 12, 2011. Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com

At the NFL owners meeting in Palm Beach, Fla., Falcons coach Mike Smith repeated the stance that he made at the NFL scouting combine about the team being committed to Sam Baker as the left tackle.

The offensive line was hurt significantly by back and elbow injuries to Baker last season.

Smith believes the unit will be stronger if Baker, who had back surgery during the season, can return healthy.

“We are looking forward to having a healthy Sam back,” Smith said at the combine on February 25. “Sam is very resilient. He’s fought through a lot of injuries.”

The Falcons note that they have won a lot of games with Sam Baker at left tackle. CURTIS COMPTON / ccompton@ajc.com

The Falcons note that they have won a lot of games with Sam Baker at left tackle. CURTIS COMPTON / ccompton@ajc.com

Smith went on to state that he’d be comfortable if Baker was the starting left tackle in 2012. Last season, Will Svitek took over at left tackle and remained in the lineup when Baker returned from back surgery.

Many fans want the Falcons to pick up Marcus McNeill, who was cut by San Diego this offseason. There are currently no plans to workout the former Auburn star.

At the NFL owners meeting, Smith spoke about Baker and defensive tackle Peria Jerry to Pat Yasinskas, ESPN.Com’s NFC South blogger.

 

“We are very committed to Sam Baker,’’ Smith said. “I think Sam has a long future with us.’’

He also told our buddy Pay Y:

“I think that Sam has shown a lot of resiliency,’’ Smith said. “Sam really has worked through a lot of injuries throughout his career. He’s played through a lot of things. Sam, in my mind, was playing very well through the first five or six games last season until he was injured and had to have the procedure done on his back, which put him out for a very significant amount of time.’’

The Falcons’ position of not announcing details of injuries has helped to fuel the

100509 Flowery Branch - Atlanta Falcons team owner Arthur Blank checks out the arm brace of outside tackle # 72 Sam Baker during day 3 of minicamp in Flowery Branch on Sunday, May 9, 2010. Baker, drafted by the Falcons 21st overall in the first round of the 2008 NFL Draft, has been battling injuries.    Curtis Compton  ccompton@ajc.com

100509 Flowery Branch - Atlanta Falcons team owner Arthur Blank checks out the arm brace of outside tackle # 72 Sam Baker during day 3 of minicamp in Flowery Branch on Sunday, May 9, 2010. Baker, drafted by the Falcons 21st overall in the first round of the 2008 NFL Draft, has been battling injuries. Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com

 perception that Jerry’s been a bust. In the second game of his career he suffered was has been described as a “severe” injury. But the details have not been forthcoming.

“We’ve committed to Peria Jerry and Peria ended up playing about 30 percent of the snaps (last season),’’ Smith said. “He was a rotational player. He had some production, but it wasn’t consistent production throughout the year.’’

Do you support Smith’s position on Baker and Jerry?

–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog

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142 comments Add your comment

paulitik

March 30th, 2012
4:57 pm

Jeff B

March 30th, 2012
4:57 pm

So you and Pat just copy-and-paste each other’s articles now? =)

D. Orlando Ledbetter

March 30th, 2012
5:06 pm

paulitik – I like the facepalm, but my nephew won’t tell me what it means. So I won’t do it in public.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

March 30th, 2012
5:07 pm

Jeff B — I wasn’t there. I have to give him credit. I linked to his article. He does the same to our articles from time to time.

Poppa Falcon

March 30th, 2012
5:10 pm

My eyes tell me that Sam Baker is brutally awful. O-Line Coach Pat Hill has his WORK cut out for him.

lanier

March 30th, 2012
5:13 pm

I think of Baker as a very average player. Jerry is a definite bust

ATL Sports Pessimist

March 30th, 2012
5:13 pm

“The Falcons note that they have won a lot of games with Sam Baker at left tackle.” They have won despite* Sam Baker. Am I the only one who say him get manhandled by Trent Cole and other numerous DEs? This has to be a smokescreen.

Dan

March 30th, 2012
5:15 pm

Baker and Jerry have not lived up to their expectations. I would have to say if they dont improve if it becomes cost effective to jump ship then we must do so. For all the griping I do about the Saints they at least cut the rope if they have an opportunity for an upgrade at a position. Loyalty is nice but if my QB is looking at the ceiling of the DOME a lot and if my DT’s only impression is putting a dent and wearing out the end of the bench than they has gotta to go

Dwight C.

March 30th, 2012
5:16 pm

Time for both player to step up, no more excuses.

ueeediot

March 30th, 2012
5:24 pm

Sam Baker is so bad they wont even let him sit on the bench anymore….he gets to sit on the gatorade cooler.

Mike Smith is writing a very great comeback story for Jerry and Baker or he is writing his resignation speech with this type of “support”.

mountain_jim

March 30th, 2012
5:28 pm

“Facepalm”

Agree :)

paulitik

March 30th, 2012
5:28 pm

DLed, it simply means I have no more words. I just have to put my hands on my face in disbelief. I can’t believe Baker is still on this team, let alone even being considered as a potential starter. This is a kid who doesn’t even seem to like football. Is it his dad’s relationship with Blank as the former AFL commish keeping him in a job? I don’t get it. Baker is terrible, and the risk/ reward of him being even a serviceable LT, is ridiculously low considering he’s making pre-rookie wage scale 1st rd pick money.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

March 30th, 2012
5:36 pm

ATL Sports Pessimist — I understand, but Coach Smith has never played the “smokescreen” game with us in four years. He’s a straight shooter. You have to take him at his word.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

March 30th, 2012
5:38 pm

However, I don’t make this point in the blog, but both players had very extensive injury histories before being drafted. I can dig up those stories.

Dwight C.

March 30th, 2012
5:38 pm

It’s time for GM & HC to take responsibility for this mess that the team is about to go through this season.

Paddy

March 30th, 2012
5:39 pm

The first few games will tell us all we need to know about these 2 Falcons. They are members of the team I root for so I support them. If they have bounced back like CS says, that will be great for everybody. It won’t take us long to see the results.

AlanFalcon

March 30th, 2012
5:42 pm

Hope Smitty is right, we need for these two to step up and be what they were drafted to be.

mountain_jim

March 30th, 2012
5:49 pm

If the new OC’s passing game is going to work the LT (and the whole line) is going to have to pass-block alot better.

buckhead benny

March 30th, 2012
6:03 pm

First of all, Mike Smith is completely full of bullsh*t- Okay, so why would Sam Baker be playing the second half of the season and be okay by the doctor’s of the Falcons if he had such a horrible back injury?? So what your saying is they sacrificed his health and put him in the games the second half of the season even though he shouldn’t have been playing?

I am calling bs on this- Sam Baker is an HGH boy that quit taking the HGH when they announced random testing last year- Hence, why he spent so much time not being healed and strong last year is he couldn’t take the HGH like he used to-

Yeah, he was very resilient when there was no testing for HGH and so were a hell of a lot of other players- mark my word on that-

I am calling Sam Baker out now- and I bet if they randomly test him for HGH he tests positive next year-

Just my gut and what my inside sources around the NFL say about Sam Baker- His running dog in college was the LB from Houston that was suspended for steroid usage,fyi

Khaos

March 30th, 2012
6:05 pm

This article has intensified my frustration with this team.

Fire Smitty and Dimtroff

Jesse

March 30th, 2012
6:17 pm

Well Baker sure can’t play guard. We all remember the one time he tried to do that……
They need to have a back up plan. Baker has never played up to his 1st round pick, even though
we all knew it was a reach.

falcon30291

March 30th, 2012
6:29 pm

It’s obvious coach Smith has dementia or was drunk during the interview. No way is Baker a productive special team player much less a starting Lt. Second how can a player taken in the first round, then get beaten out by a 7th rounder for playing time not be a bust. Seriously , Baker was playing good for the 1st 5 or 6 games. Old age is getting to our poor coach. Anyone remember the Eagle game, if not I bet Ryan does.
I think that Sam has shown a lot of resiliency,’’ Smith said. “Sam really has worked through a lot of injuries throughout his career. He’s played through a lot of things. Sam, in my mind, was playing very well through the first five or six games last season until he was injured and had to have the procedure done on his back, which put him out for a very significant amount of time.’’

Larry

March 30th, 2012
6:30 pm

If Mike Smith genuinely believes Sam Baker is acceptable to cover Matt Ryan’s blindside then I have just lost tremendous respect for his anility to judge talent.

Larry

March 30th, 2012
6:33 pm

…and performance.

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Head Mo Fo

March 30th, 2012
6:40 pm

Listen guys… In order for our organization to get anything in return for Sam Baker (via trade) they must point out the positive attributes that the player has displayed. This is a buisness, you can’t come out and blast a player in the media that another team may be willing to trade for. We reserve the right to release him after training camp if his game hasn’t improved.

Also, Smitty and Dimtroff will have to kick the tires on a free agent LT (hopefully Marcus McNeil). In the event we have a winning season we will not be in position to pick up a young starting left tackle in next years draft.

P. Jerry has been a great character guy but we need a couple of guys in our locker room that are dogs… A dog is a player whom has attitude, moxy, and isn’t afraid to get after it week after week. Dimotroff has avoided players with character issues, the flip-side is you don’t the best avaialbe player.

Ryan

March 30th, 2012
6:42 pm

This is a joke!!!! The Falcons have never had a good offensive line. Bartkowski’s career was cut short and Matt Ryan’s will too if the falcons dont invest in a good offensive line. I like Clabo, Mcclure, and Baker, but the rest are terrible….. Common sense would tell u that you should do everything possible to protect our 72 million dollar QB. If Baker and Jerry don’t improve this year with our new coachs, they should be cut in 2013.

Jim Mora Jr.

March 30th, 2012
6:46 pm

To me, Mike Smith can spin this however he would like to. But injuries happen to every team. It’s not just restricted to the Falcons. If the Falcons go 10-6 and exit in the Wild Card round again this year, then that tells me that Mike Smith and Thomas Dimitroff were more committed to player loyalty than actually improving the team. They got beat by Green Bay 2 years ago because they couldn’t make a defensive stop. So what do they do? They blow up their draft the 2011 and 2012 for Julio Jones, a guy that wasn’t even their #1 target (AJ Green was.) The argument was Matt Ryan needed “another target”…at the time you already had one of the 3-5 best WRs in the league in Roddy, the greatest TE of all time in Tony Gonzalez (who has been used ineffectively in this offense), and Michael Turner, who just a couple of seasons ago was considered an elite back. Meanwhile, the defense was virtually ignored outside of the Ray Edwards signing. So what happened? The defense couldn’t get off the field on 3rd down all year (2nd Saints game is a perfect example- they went 10/13 on 3rd down), and the offense still wasn’t effective.
The fan apathy towards this franchise is growing in a hurry. While I applaud the fact they haven’t made kneejerk reactions; a lot of times I sit and wonder if some of the veterans went to free agency, would they even get another shot with a different franchise? Rest assured Brent Grimes wouldn’t get $10 mil a season for another team. And I understand there’s a balance between taking care of your core players and upgrading…but if some of these franchises can bring in name players year after year and have them perform at a high level, why can’t we? Mike Smith is officially out of excuses. He can’t lay the blame on the players anymore. Now he can’t lay it on the assistants. He and Dimitroff will be the next ones to get replaced. By then, the Dome might be back to the days when you could put two tickets under your windshield, and you end up with four.

Big Crimson 75

March 30th, 2012
6:47 pm

Someone needs to support them!

tough guy

March 30th, 2012
6:47 pm

Yeah, Baker’s a wuss. I could kick a gorilla’s ass, bad back or not.

Row 3

March 30th, 2012
6:48 pm

These two guys are training camp bodies. If they do not show improvement in the pre-season they will be replaced by the start of regular season. I am okay with giving them a chance to compete.

jglb55

March 30th, 2012
6:54 pm

Both players are worth the price. I truly believe Sam can play at a high level and he will. Every team in the NFL has to have backup players. So y dog jerry. hes been hurt and is young. Im sure Smitty has a plan for LT. IF it doesnt work out im willing to bet he will be dropped around the 4th game and will pick up or trade for something

KC in Smyrna

March 30th, 2012
7:40 pm

Dimitroff drafted two plays with injury histories and ***SURPRISE*** both stay injured. Same with William Moore as well.

YOUR GONNA DO WHAT.

March 30th, 2012
7:55 pm

Enter your comments herewhat

JSS

March 30th, 2012
8:04 pm

You don’t even have to go the theaters to see ‘Titanic’ in 3-D, it is on full display in Flowery Branch!

Who Me?

March 30th, 2012
9:12 pm

comments like that from Smith will continue to firmly position him and this franchise as the laughing-stock of the NFL post-season.

Johnny Villa Rica

March 30th, 2012
9:18 pm

All I know is if you told Jerry to haul A$$ he’d have to make 2 trips. Thats a big boy,, too bad he aint no good….

Jimmy

March 30th, 2012
9:23 pm

Matt Ryan won’t make it through the year without lost playing time if Baker starts at LT.
Jerry will never be more than a situational player…if he can stay healthy for a year.
As for Mike Smith…what do you expect him to say?
They have Baker and Jerry on the roster so he SHOULD support them.

Shut Up!!!

March 30th, 2012
9:31 pm

The sky is falling,the sky is falling! all you so call ” Fans” have all the answers each and every year,but what team has four winning seasons right after the lost of their fanchise QB? Atlanta, thats who! There are 31 other teams that are moving and shaking for the media talk and hartsfields has flights leaving every hour on the hour.”fly away” For the last four year all we do is win( maybe not playoff games yet) but aleast we are there with a fighter chance! maybe our heads dont make all the right moves,but which teams does? no one bats 1000% every day all day. Our arrow is pointing in the right direction and I am down with the FALCONS all the way. win lose or draw!!! So for all you Cry babies” SHUT UP”!!!!! We have enough trolls on this blog as is.

SR

March 30th, 2012
9:45 pm

My gosh, all you have to do is substitute Fredi Gonzalez for Mike Smith and you have the same article- these two yo-yos are identical twins! Braves are Falcons and Falcons are Braves, bringing back the same dead weight while trying to peddle snake oil to the fans. Good grief.

Sly Boarders

March 30th, 2012
9:45 pm

I just don’t get this loyalty to certain players. Robert James was another one- goodness gracious, tell me why he had a roster spot for so long, because I sure can’t find any stats to back it up. I believe I the mind trust, I just don’t know I trust their beliefs.

E Love

March 30th, 2012
10:00 pm

O Ledbettere: does MAX STARKS have anything left in the tank? any chance falcons take a look

Sid

March 30th, 2012
10:13 pm

I support Smith period, he’s the coach, the head coach. If it doesn’t work I expect him to fix it. If he doesn’t fix it then I expect an explanation as to why it hasn’t been fixed.

[...] he made at the NFLscouting combine about the team being committed to Sam Baker as the lefttackle. read more Related Articles Share About Author [...]

Falcon Bill

March 30th, 2012
10:38 pm

Ship the both of them out, NOW!!!! committed to baker my @$$………………………..

Delbert D.

March 30th, 2012
10:49 pm

Ultimatums are in order for these guys. Wait, that’s Latin. Ultimata?

bama52

March 30th, 2012
10:54 pm

Both of these players are injury prone,they both must go through a long hard training camp and physical.

Khaos

March 30th, 2012
10:55 pm

Fire Smitty and Dimitroff

tyger

March 30th, 2012
11:01 pm

Peria has more upside than Baker…

Baker was a stretch in the 1st rd, Peria was a steal…
Injuries have cost both, especially Peria…
If Peria recovers we recoup our investment, like Moore…
It just remains to be seen if he can shake the injury bug…
If so, we just get stronger up the middle…he’s capable.

P. Bull Terrier

March 30th, 2012
11:11 pm

The Falcons policy of not disclosing injuries, even a year or more after the injury, makes it harder for fans to evaluate the ability of certain players. Baker and Jerry appear to be underperforming compared to other players at their position, both on their own team and around the league. Since we don’t really know much about the extent of their injuries, we don’t know anything about how long or how difficult it is for a player to recover from whatever injuries they had.

Maybe Jerry’s injury was “severe” enough that the Falcons management and coaches knew it would take more than a full season for him to get back to full strength. The same may be true of Baker’s back injury. If doctors told Smith not to expect either player to contribute much in 2011, then maybe he was pleasantly surprised that Jerry was able to play as the average undrafted free agent and that Baker was able to bend over far enough to get in his stance. In that case, Smith might have reason to be optimistic about both players’ chances of matching the team’s original expectations, but all the fans see is a couple of underperforming 1st round draft choices. If that is actually the case, it’s a shame for the players to have to hear all of the undeserved criticism when they are actually doing as well as, or better than, should be expected under the circumstances. Hopefully 2102 will prove Smith’s assessment correct.