Atlanta Falcons offensive tackle Jake Matthews (70) blocks against Miami Dolphins defensive end Terrence Fede (78) during the second quarter at the Georgia Dome. (USA TODAY Sports: Dale Zanine)
Atlanta Falcons rookie offensive tackle Jake Matthews officially moved from the right side to the left on Monday.
The switch was expected after veteran Sam Baker went down with a season-ending knee injury in Saturday’s preseason game against the Houston Texans. He was placed on injured reserve Monday.
The loss of Baker thrust Matthews, the No. 6 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, into a key position on the line before his first snap in an NFL regular-season game.
Matthews played left tackle for one year at Texas A&M after being on the right side. He said it’s an adjustment to switch positions.
“The stagger changes,” Matthews said. “You go for a long time used to bracing a guy with one leg back. And now you’ve got to flip it around. It’s like almost going from writing with your right hand to your left hand. But I did it in college. I feel pretty comfortable on both sides.”
Lamar Holmes took over for Matthews at right tackle during Monday’s practice in Flowery Branch, Ga. The Falcons’ other options at tackle are Ryan Schraeder and Gabe Carimi, a former first-round pick who has already been cut by two teams. The team also signed Pat McQuistan, a ninth-year veteran offensive lineman who has played for Dallas, Miami, New Orleans and Arizona.
Coach Mike Smith didn’t seemed concerned about Matthews adapting.
“I don’t think he’ll blink,” he said. “We’re not.”
Matthews, the son of Pro Football Hall of Famer Bruce Matthews, held his own in the preseason game against the Texans after having two penalties in his NFL debut against Miami.
“I thought Jake did some good things,” Smith said Saturday. “He had some tough battles, but I thought he did a nice job. He’s going to be a good player in this league.”
Baker, on his 14th snap in the exhibition game against Houston, suffered a ruptured patellar tendon in his right knee. A first-round pick in 2008, he was coming back from a torn patellar in his left knee. He has played all 16 games in just two of his six seasons in the NFL.