In­di­ans’ exit reaf­firms reg­u­lar-sea­son suc­cess guar­an­tees noth­ing.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution - - FRONT PAGE -

The Cleve­land In­di­ans en­tered the play­offs hav­ing gone 33-4 since Aug. 23. Even af­ter their 22-game win­ning streak — the long­est by any Amer­i­can League team ever, the sec­ond-long­est in baseball his­tory — ended, they won 11 of their fi­nal 14 reg­u­lar-sea­son games. One of baseball’s great­est un­truths-pre­sentedas-truth is that a team needs to be hot en­ter­ing the play­offs. Here, once and for­ever, is your re­but­tal.

The In­di­ans took the first two games of the ALDS, the sec­ond in rather as­ton­ish­ing fash­ion. They over­rode an 8-3 deficit against the Yan­kees’

fa­mous bullpen. Jay Bruce hit the ty­ing home run off David Robertson. Just be­fore Fran­cisco Lin­dor’s gal­va­niz­ing grand slam, Joe Gi­rardi didn’t chal­lenge what was called a

“If you have sen­si­tiv­ity to light, it’s best not to look at a TV or lap­top, so I didn’t study un­til I was feel­ing 100 per­cent,” Schraeder said. “Ob­vi­ously, get­ting back from a con­cus­sion was my most im­por­tant deal. Tak­ing care of my­self, eat­ing right, do­ing cer­tain treat­ments.”

Make no mis­take, the Fal­cons are happy to have Schraeder back.

The Fal­cons were the only NFL team last sea­son to start the same five of­fen­sive line­men in all 16 reg­u­lar-sea­son games, and by the mea­sure of Pro Foot­ball Fo­cus the Fal­cons graded out as the No. 6 line unit in the league.

“Ryan’s been an ex­tremely pro­duc­tive player for us the last cou­ple years,” quar­ter­back Matt Ryan said. “Any time you get a chance to get a good player like that back, it’s huge for the team.”

Even left tackle Jake Matthews, who works so far from Schraeder that he rarely hears his voice among all the chat­ter that goes on among of­fen­sive line­men be­fore each NFL snap, is en­thu­si­as­tic about the group be­ing back to­gether again.

“Yeah, for sure,” he said. “Ryan’s a re­ally good player, so the line­men are ex­cited to have him back.”

Matthews re­calls what it’s like to have the gang to­gether. Schraeder re­mem­bers only “parts” of the se­quence of events when he got whacked in the back of his some­what rare, and new, su­per­sized VICIS hel­met.

While out on a wide play, he en­coun­tered a Green Bay de­fen­sive back who went low to at­tempt to chop him down as a lead blocker. Upon go­ing low him­self, Schraeder got thumped in the back of the head.

It wasn’t the first time he was hit there, al­though when it comes to con­cus­sions Schraeder has never had one be­fore. At least not of­fi­cially.

“Not di­ag­nosed,” said Schraeder, an un­drafted free agent in 2013 from Val­dosta State. “Who knows? I’ve seen stars be­fore. We’ve prob­a­bly all hit our head too hard be­fore.”

Af­ter Schraeder’s con­cus­sion, he did not in­vest a sec­ond in study­ing for his job un­til Sept. 28, the Fri­day be­fore the Fal­cons played the Bills. That’s when he re­turned to the team, and took in video­tape.

He didn’t want to be away from the game that last Novem­ber led him to sign a five-year, $31.5 mil­lion con­tract ex­ten­sion, but he wasn’t los­ing his mind while away. Schraeder missed his team­mates and rou­tine, but had no anx­i­ety at­tacks.

The most im­por­tant thing was to take care of him­self.

“Noth­ing to where it was mess­ing with my mind or any­thing,” he said of his frus­tra­tion while in the NFL’s con­cus­sion pro­to­col. “I’ve got­ten pretty good about my fo­cus. I try not to let it get out­side of what I’m try­ing to do.”

Schraeder feels like he’s blend­ing right back in, and that this week’s prac­tices are no more im­por­tant for him than if he’d been in a weekby-week rou­tine all along, like last sea­son. It’s just like he took a safety time­out.

“Yeah, well, our whole mind­set is that we’re not chang­ing how we’re do­ing things,” he said. “I’m just go­ing to go out there and get my groove, my rhythm go­ing again.”

For all the com­men­tary while Schraeder was out for two-plus games about how the right side of the Fal­cons’ of­fen­sive line was off with first-time right guard Wes Sch­weitzer and sub right tackle Ty Sam­brailo, the Fal­cons’ group still — through Week 5 of the NFL sched­ule — is ranked No. 6 in the NFL by Pro Foot­ball Fo­cus.

Schraeder’s re­turn fig­ures to help.

All-Pro cen­ter Alex Mack said noth­ing changed schemat­i­cally while Ryan was gone, yet a more es­tab­lished and ex­pe­ri­enced player is back in the house.

“Ryan is feel­ing good, he’s back in the game and ... noth­ing changes,” Mack said. “Our rules are our rules. We usu­ally do the same thing.”


The In­di­ans watch dur­ing the ninth in­ning Wed­nes­day night as the se­ries against the Yan­kees slips away. Their record 22-game win­ning streak in the reg­u­lar sea­son didn’t mean much in the play­offs as New York ad­vanced to the AL Cham­pi­onship Se­ries.

Mark Bradley


Right tackle Ryan Schraeder (left) re­turns Sun­day, and left tackle Jake Matthews says his line­mates are “ex­cited to have him back.”


Isaac Nauta gets past Mis­sis­sippi State’s Mark McLau­rin for a touch­down dur­ing a vic­tory last month. Nauta says he’s ex­pect­ing to play a big­ger role as Ge­or­gia’s SEC sea­son pro­gresses.

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