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Falcons left tackle Baker finally feels healthy


By Associated Press

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) — After the worst season of his four-year career with the Atlanta Falcons, Sam Baker wants to prove he's still a legitimate starting left tackle.

Baker, drafted 21st overall in 2008, knows he might not get another chance in Atlanta.

He has had back surgery three times since his rookie year and twice since last October. His five-year contract expires in February.

Last year marked the second time that Baker underwent back surgery during the season. He missed four games and never regained his job after returning in Week 12.

When the season ended, Baker required another discectomy, a procedure to remove herniated disc material that presses on a nerve root or the spinal cord.

But Baker believes he's as healthy as he was in 2010, when the Falcons went 13-3 and he started every game. Coach Mike Smith reinstated him as a starter before the start of training camp.

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