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Big games get Svitek's attention


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Big games get Svitek's attention

Falcons offensive tackle to play in another one Saturday vs. Packers

* By Rhiannon Potkey

* Ventura County Star

* Posted January 13, 2011 at 11:24 p.m.

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Before each big game this season, Will Svitek took a few moments during pregame warmups to absorb the atmosphere.

The Atlanta Falcons offensive tackle could feel the energy of the crowd and could sense the added adrenaline of the players.

“You don’t get that working an office job from 8 to 5. I am fortunate being in the NFL and I want to cherish it,” Svitek said. “I always try to put things in perspective and think back to where it started and how much hard work I put in since I was a little kid to experience moments like those.”

The Newbury Park High graduate will have another to add to the memory bank on Saturday night when the top-seeded Falcons host the Green Bay Packers in the NFC divisional round at the Georgia Dome.

In his attempt to record his first career playoff victory, Svitek, 29, will come face-to-face with Packers star linebacker Clay Matthews III, a fellow Marmonte League and Pacific-10 Conference product who attended Agoura High and USC.

“It’s always fun to see the local guys out there,” said Svitek, a sixth-round draft pick out of Stanford. “I try to find them after the game and say hello. It’s kind of like a shared bond we have between all of us and I always keep tabs on how they do.”

Svitek’s role has increased in his second season with the Falcons.

He is playing swing tackle for the NFC South Division champions and functions as a tight end in their jumbo personnel packages.

“It’s been fun to be on the field and contribute,” Svitek said. “Not many teams use the offensive linemen as much as we do in all kinds of situations. It’s not just at the goal line, but in all downs and distances.”

Befitting his linemen tendencies, the 6-foot-6, 309-pound Svitek is used more for his blocking abilities than his receiving skills. He has yet to catch a pass in 16 games and knows his place in the pecking order.

“I have had a couple of routes thrown to me in practice, and a pattern here and there in games. But to be honest, I think I am one of the last reads on our team,” Svitek said. “We have Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez, so I am not going to hold my breath on that one.”

Svitek often jokes with Gonzalez — the NFL’s all-time leading receiver for tight ends — about Svitek’s membership in the positional group.

“I always tell him I am a tight end now, so I want to make sure I get an invitation to the end of the year tight end dinner,” Svitek said. “I have already requested an invite to that.”

But that doesn’t mean Svitek has abandoned his linemen by any means.

“That is my crew and that is where I will be playing the rest of my career and where my future is,” he said. “One of the slogans in the NFL is the more you can do, the better job security you have. That is what I pride myself on and what I am trying to do here.”

It’s been a good year in all facets of football for Svitek.

Aside from the Falcons’ success, Svitek was able to attend the Orange Bowl to watch Stanford beat Virginia Tech.

“Some of the guys on my team are sick of the whole Stanford thing and probably wishing they would have been losing,” Svitek said. “I was wearing my Stanford clothes every single day and talking about Stanford all year.”

Although he lives in Atlanta, Svitek’s thoughts are never far from Newbury Park during the season.

His family and friends fly out for many home games, and he receives frequent e-mails and text messages from well wishers.

“It’s such a tight-knit community and having grown up there my whole life I feel there is a big association with the city,” Svitek said. “It makes you realize you are not only doing this for yourself, but you are doing it for everybody else too.”

Svitek celebrated his 29th birthday last Saturday by watching the wild-card playoff games on television and resting.

But as much as he enjoyed having the time off, Svitek doesn’t want any more of it for a few weeks.

“I am hoping the most exciting part of the season is still in the future and still to come,” he said. “This is the chance we have all been waiting for.”

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