Atlanta Falcons left tackle Sam Baker will miss the 2014 season after leaving Saturday night's preseason game against the Houston Texans with a torn patella tendon in his right knee.
"Following his injury in the game, Sam underwent a number of tests and it was determined that he had suffered a torn patellar tendon and will miss the rest of the season," Falcons head coach Mike Smith said in a statement Sunday. "Sam had worked extremely hard to get back on the field after missing most of last season, and he was having a good camp. I know he is disappointed, but I also know he is a very resilient football player and will do whatever he can to bounce back."
Baker's injury is a big setback for the Falcons' offensive line. It could also hasten the move of No. 6 overall pick Jake Matthews to left tackle. Matthews had been slated to start at right tackle during his rookie season.
Matthews was called for two penalties in his preseason debut and struggled at times against the Texans' talented defensive line in Saturday's 32-7 loss, but has been widely praised for his technique and potential. Regardless, the Falcons were not expecting to count on the former Texas A&M star to protect quarterback Matt Ryan's blind side this season.
"I think that Jake did some good things," Smith said after Saturday's game. "He got matched up and had some tough battles, but I think that he did a nice job. He is going to be a good player in this league."
Baker played only four games last season due to a knee injury and has also dealt with back issues during his career.
Third-year veteran Lamar Holmes is listed as Baker's backup. He started 15 of 16 games last season, but was highly inconsistent and part of an offensive line that allowed Ryan to be sacked a career-high 44 times. The Falcons could start Holmes or Gabe Carimi at right tackle should they decide to move Matthews to the left side.