Coach Mike Smith said starting left tackle Sam Baker’s health is a long-term concern after he missed his fifth game of the season.
Baker was listed as out with a knee injury for Sunday’s 33-10 loss to the Seahawks. He had returned to play the week before at Carolina after missing four games in a row.
“Sam has been dealing with the knee all season long,’’ Smith said. “He’s fighting through it. We got him back (at Carolina) after a four- or five-week period of allowing him to rest and he wasn’t ready to go this week. It is a concern. When you can’t go out and play consecutive games, you have to be concerned about it.
“Sam’s doing everything that he can in terms of getting back out there (but) we want to make sure that he’s 100 percent before we put him back out there.’’
The Falcons selected Baker in the first round of the 2008 draft with the idea that he would be quarterback Matt Ryan’s pass protector but he has suffered various injuries during his career. After Baker was healthy and productive with the Falcons in 2012, the team signed him to a six-year contract that included a $10 million signing bonus and guaranteed salaries of $1 million in 2013 and $3.25 million in 2014.
Baker was first listed on the injury report this season with a knee injury after the opener at New Orleans. He played against the Rams in Week 2 but suffered a foot injury during that game and missed the final series.
Baker didn’t play in Week 3 at Miami and lasted just 22 snaps in the Week 4 game against New England before being forced to leave the game. Baker then rested for four weeks including Atlanta’s bye and played all 50 offensive snaps against Carolina on Nov. 3.
Baker has struggled this season, especially in pass blocking, though he showed improvement against Carolina. Second-year player Lamar Holmes has played left tackle in place of Baker and Jeremy Trueblood, signed in the days before the opener, has played right tackle.
Weatherspoon to return: Smith said linebacker Sean Weatherspoon will practice Wednesday, which means he’s set to be moved from the short-term injured reserve list to the active roster and play at Tampa Bay Sunday.
Weatherspoon suffered a foot injury in Week 2 and returned to practice last week. The Falcons will have to make a roster move to make room for him.
Gonzalez banged up: Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez left the Seahawks game with a left toe injury. He returned to the game but said it’s possible the injury could linger.
“I played on it and I was able to go full speed but we’ll see how it goes (Monday),” Gonzalez said after the game. “Usually when you have injuries you can get through the game but the next day when it calms down and swells up then that’s when the trouble starts. (Monday) I will wake up and hopefully it’s not that bad.”
Smith said Monday he had no update on Gonzalez’s status. Gonzalez wasn’t in the locker room during the news media access period.
Gonzalez has missed only two games because of injury during his 17-year career.
White is fine: Smith said wide receiver Roddy White was on a snap count limit against the Seahawks after returning from ankle and hamstring injuries. White ended up playing 55 snaps, which Smith said was near the limit, and showed “no ill effects” from the game.
White suffered a high ankle sprain during the exhibition season but played with the injury. He was shut down after suffering a hamstring injury in Week 5 that he said was related to compensating for the ankle.
‘Season not over’: The Falcons (2-7) are a major long shot to make the playoffs with seven games remaining. But Smith said the isn’t inclined to make “wholesale changes” to the lineup with an eye on evaluating players for the future.
“Our No.1 goal each and every week is to win the football game,” Smith said. We owe it to the team, the fans and everyone associated with Atlanta Falcons. This season is not over. I know people want to say (it’s) ‘gloom and doom,’ but that’s not the case.”