Wednesday July 18th, 2018 2:54AM

Schweitzer struggles in debut with high-scoring Falcons

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

FLOWERY BRANCH — Wes Schweitzer was in no mood to talk Wednesday.

That was obvious as soon as he got to his locker. The Atlanta Falcons offensive guard rummaged through his belongings, barely acknowledging a pair of reporters standing behind him. When he finally turned around, he answered a handful of questions with a terse stream of clichés, making it perfectly clear he'd rather be doing just about anything but this .

"I'm just excited for another opportunity to compete," he said. "Umm, another game. I've gotta get ready to play."

Schweitzer's sour mood was hardly a surprise.

His first game as the starting right guard for the NFL's most potent offense didn't go so well. It was easy to point a finger at Schweitzer — a sixth-round pick who didn't get on the field at all last season — as one of the primary causes for Atlanta's lackluster showing in a 23-17 victory over the Chicago Bears . Of course, it was much more complex than that.

"There's definitely some things that went well," coach Dan Quinn said, turning on his diplomatic skills, "and some things that didn't."

When things go well, an offensive guard can cruise through his football life with hardly any attention.

But when someone on the opposite side of the line — in this case, Chicago's Akiem Hicks — has a couple of sacks, then everyone wants to know what went wrong. Schweitzer is certainly feeling the heat heading into Sunday night's game against a much more challenging opponent, the Green Bay Packers, in a rematch of last year's NFC championship game.

Mike Daniels and Nick Perry combined for three sacks in a defensive masterpiece in Week 1. The Packers limited Seattle to three field goals in a 17-9 victory that showed just how much Green Bay has improved since being blown out 44-24 by the Falcons nearly eight months ago with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line.

Quinn said he'll be looking for Schweitzer — and the entire line, for that matter — to clean up some of the mistakes that slowed the offense against the Bears . The coach pointed out that if a lineman handles 50 plays flawlessly but messes up a couple of assignments, everyone talks about those two plays.

"That's the nature of the position," Quinn said. "It's not just him on that one. Actually, that's been a big topic for our team. Can our execution, our consistency, really get better?"

Last season, the Falcons led the NFL in scoring with a franchise-record 540 points, an average of 33.75 per game and 71 more points than the next team on the list. With veteran Chris Chester at right guard, Atlanta was held to fewer than 24 points in only two games — a 23-16 victory at Denver and a 24-15 loss at Philadelphia.

When Chester retired after the season, the Falcons decided to fill the position from within. They had Ben Garland, who backed up on both the offensive and defensive lines during the run to the Super Bowl. They also had Schweitzer, who made the team as a rookie but was inactive throughout the regular season and playoffs.

The two battled throughout training camp and the preseason before Schweitzer was announced as the starter six days before the opener. A graduate of San Jose State with a degree in chemistry, there was no question about his ability to handle the mental aspects of the role. What remains to be seen is whether he's physically up to the challenge.

Ryan Schraeder, who lines up alongside Schweitzer at right tackle, is confident that he'll develop into a dependable lineman as he gains more experience.

"It takes time," Schraeder said. "He's got a lot to learn. But the cool thing is that he's on top of everything. He's doing everything he can to get better and learn. It's just a matter of playing more football."

It is difficult to tell what sort of jump Schweitzer looking to make in his second game.

This is all he had when asked about it.

"It's going to be a good matchup," he said dryly. "I'm excited for the game."

More than anything, he hopes no one notices him Sunday night.

NOTES: Rookie RB Brian Hill returned to practice Wednesday after missing the season opener with an ankle injury. The fifth-round pick from Wyoming went down in the second preseason game against Pittsburgh and hasn't played since. Hill was officially listed as limited, along with C Alex Mack (back), S Kemal Ishmael (hamstring), LB Duke Riley (knee) and TE Eric Saubert (hamstring). Quinn said all five players should be available for Week 2.

© Copyright 2018
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Schweitzer struggles in debut with high-scoring Falcons
Wes Schweitzer was in no mood to talk Wednesday...
9:14PM ( 6 minutes ago )
Braves add officials from Mets, Blue Jays to front office
The Atlanta Braves have made two additions to their front office, hiring Adam Fisher as assistant general manager and Perry Minasian as director of player personnel...
7:19PM ( 2 hours ago )
Hawks' F DeAndre' Bembry out 4-6 weeks with tricep injury
Atlanta Hawks forward DeAndre' Bembry will miss at least a month with a strained right triceps and possibly the start of the regular season...
7:13PM ( 2 hours ago )
Deshaun Watson has mixed NFL debut in loss
Houston Texans head coach Bill O'Brien says he hadn't decided who will be his starting quarterback against the Bengals this Sunday...
8:00AM ( 1 day ago )
Falcons escape Week 1 with lackluster win, look to Packers
After a historic collapse in the Super Bowl and a winless preseason, the Atlanta Falcons were rather desperate for a victory. With that out of the way, there are plenty of concerns heading into Week 2...
10:22PM ( 1 day ago )
Watson gets his first NFL action, makes bid for starting role
The Texans, who have had a revolving door at quarterback in recent years, face a quarterback controversy heading into Thursday's game against the Bengals after Tom Savage was benched at halftime for rookie Deshaun Watson.
11:23PM ( 2 days ago )
Professional Sports
Braves add officials from Mets, Blue Jays to front office
The Atlanta Braves have made two additions to their front office, hiring Adam Fisher as assistant general manager and Perry Minasian as director of player personnel...
By The Associated Press
7:19PM ( 2 hours ago )
After helping Nats clinch, Braves rout NL East champs 8-0
Freddie Freeman hit a three-run home run off Gio Gonzalez and Julio Teheran threw seven shutout innings as the Atlanta Braves beat the Washington Nationals 8-0 on Tuesday night...
By The Associated Press
6:18AM ( 15 hours ago )
Inciarte's bases-loaded walk lifts Braves past Marlins, 6-5
Ender Inciarte's bases-loaded walk from Kyle Barraclough with two outs in the ninth inning lifted the Atlanta Braves to a 6-5 victory over the Miami Marlins on Saturday night.
By The Associated Press
11:29PM ( 3 days ago )
Jose Urena beats Braves 7-1 to end Marlins' 5-game skid
Jose Urena allowed only three hits in 6 1/3 innings and added his first career RBI to stop Miami's five-game skid and lead the Marlins to a 7-1 win over Atlanta on Friday night...
By AccessWDUN
12:43AM ( 4 days ago )
Suzuki, Braves rally with 2 runs in 9th, beat Marlins 6-5
Kurt Suzuki capped a two-run rally in the ninth inning when his lined single past third base drove in Freddie Freeman and lifted the Atlanta Braves over the Miami Marlins 6-5 on Thursday night...
By The Associated Press
11:12PM ( 5 days ago )