Matthews Impressing So Far in Year 3

Matthews Impressing So Far in Year 3

Jay Adams

Published June 12, 2013 at 11:27 AM

Seventh-round selections are always a low-risk gamble. Sure, there’s plenty of solid talent that comes out of the last round of the NFL Draft, but expectations for players selected then are relatively short.

In preparation for his third season with the Falcons, seventh-round defensive end Cliff Matthews is looking to be quite the payoff so far — one the Falcons need after parting ways with veteran John Abraham during the offseason.

Head coach Mike Smith remarked Tuesday about how the 2011 draft pick is looking so far during OTAs and he sounded nothing but impressed with Matthews’ growth.

“Cliff has done a nice job this offseason. He’s probably about close to 10 pounds heavier than he was at the end of the season. He’s carrying it very well. He’s worked extremely hard,” Smith said. “He was injured at the end of the season so he was in rehabilitation mode for the first month or so (of the offseason program), but he’s done a very good job. Like I said, he’s about 10 pounds heavier. Looks stronger. He’s a guy that we’re counting on being part of our rotation.”

Those 10 extra pounds are serving Matthews well in what now seems to be a versatile role as he’s done some work this offseason at the defensive tackle position.

Bigger and stronger are descriptions you want to hear said about an up-and-coming defender. It will be interesting to see how Matthews develops through the rest of the offseason and into training camp as Smith made it clear that Matthews is expected to see field time — and possibly plenty of it — this year.

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