With Sam Baker out, Atlanta Falcons turn to Jake Matthews at left tackle

With Sam Baker out, Atlanta Falcons turn to Jake Matthews at left tackle
With Sam Baker out, Atlanta Falcons turn to Jake Matthews at left tackle

The Atlanta Falcons had a plan to play first-round pick Jake Matthews at right tackle for a year or two before moving him to left tackle in the future. 

Best-laid plans, and all that.

With the sobering news that the Falcons have lost left tackle Sam Baker for the season to a torn patellar tendon in his right knee on Saturday night against the Houston Texans, it means that Matthews will move to the left side a lot earlier than expected.

"I'll do it," Matthews told ESPN.com of the move, prior to learning about Baker's status. "That's what they drafted me for: to come here and play wherever. And something I take a lot of pride in is my versatility and being able to play on either side. If they ask me to move over, I'll be happy to do it."

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How crushing is this? Well, the Falcons shouldn't be too concerned with Matthews — he played left tackle at Texas A&M and was one of the cleanest prospects coming out in the draft — but rather with who will man the right side.

The most likely candidate is former third-round pick Lamar Holmes, who started 15 games a year ago, although those were mainly out of necessity. Holmes largely struggled, especially as a pass blocker. Although he possesses the mass and physical skills to man the position, Holmes hasn't put it all together yet.

Other names to watch include former first-round pick Gabe Carimi and Ryan Schraeder. Carimi was considered a reclamation project for new offensive line coach Mike Tice. He came in and impressed the coaching staff immediately before spraining an ankle. Carimi, who never panned out with the Chicago Bears, remains sidelined with the injury, and his status is unknown. Schraeder is another option in case Holmes struggles.

Matthews will have a tough Week 1 assignment: New Orleans Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan, who had 16.5 sacks in a breakout season in 2013.

Baker missed most of last season with a torn ACL and could be a cap-casualty candidate after this season. He signed a six-year, $41.1 million deal last year, and his cap hits for the next five seasons are for more than $6 million.

The Falcons had a mandate to get tougher and more talented in the trenches this offseason. Now that is being tested right away.

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Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter!

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