Ryan impressed with rookie Matthews

Jon Barash

Last year, Falcons fans saw quarterback Matt Ryan on his back often during the season. His 40-plus times getting sacked led to switching some things up front and bringing in rookie offensive tackle Jake Matthews.

The Falcons’ first pick is not the only new addition up front and on offense for Matt Ryan to build around this season. They also added veteran guard Joe Asamoah and drafted rookie running back DeVonta Freeman. The team also changed up the coaching staff in regards to the offensive line, by bringing in former Bears offensive coordinator/line coach Mike Tice to coach a line that really needed to improve.

The Falcons are relying on a player like Matthews to be a cornerstone for this line going forward. Ryan has liked what he’s seen out of him so far.

“His size, he’s strong, very athletic and he’s smart,” Ryan said. “I think that’s a great combination when you talk about a guy who’s drafted early and is going to be a cornerstone of this organization for a long time to come.”

Matthews has also shown Ryan and the rest of the team that he can use his talents in more ways than just on the field. He’s also shown that he’s not going to be a guy that is going to tell you about it.

“He’s done it the way that rookies should do it and kind of kept his mouth shut,” Ryan said. “He’s handled his business the right way and has been pretty quiet. Then we got him up there singing last night (Monday’s team meeting) in front of everybody and he was pretty good, I was impressed.”

Tuesday, the Falcons found out that running back Steven Jackson will miss some time from a left hamstring injury. Head coach Mike Smith wouldn’t say how long, just that he’ll be back for the first game.

So this being the case, Ryan will get more of a look at players like rookie running back DeVonta Freeman. So far, he’s liked what he’s seen.

“He catches the ball so well out of the backfield and I could see his role in the future being one where he’s in there on passing situations,” Ryan said. “He’s got some things to learn, when it comes to pass protection. When you see him in space he’s really, really talented and he’s smart too. He’s picked up a lot of the stuff that we’ve asked him to do. I think it shows that he was well coached when he was in college.”

Ryan says that he believes issues with the offensive line have been addressed over the offseason and still maintains that last season is no longer being thought about inside the building. However, they have made some changes to the way the offensive line is coached. Mike Tice has changed some things up schematically for the way the line blocks. Including using their athleticism to get out and run to make some blocks off the line.

“The last two years we’ve been a pretty efficient screen (pass) team and I think that will continue this year,” Ryan said. “I think we’ve got pretty athletic tackles (left tackle Sam Baker and right tackle Jake Matthews) and a really athletic center in Joe (Hawley) that can move pretty well. So I’m certain that our scheme will let them use their strengths to get out in space and make some plays.”

The Falcons have Wednesday off from practice and will get back to work on Thursday in Flowery Branch. On Friday, the team will have their annual ‘Friday Night Lights’ practice at Archer High School in Lawrenceville. These times will be some other chances that Ryan can work on the field with this offense to close out the week.



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