The Sports Xchange

NFL Team Report - Atlanta Falcons - INSIDE SLANT

With a resume that shows he coached offensive lines for four NFL teams in the last 18 years, Mike Tice knows a good prospect when he sees one.

So, now as offensive line coach of the Atlanta Falcons, Tice's high praise of rookie offensive tackle Jake Matthews should be heeded.

Tice has been impressed with Matthews' early training camp work at right tackle, which is probably as it should be since Matthews was drafted No. 6 overall out of Texas A&M.

"We knew when we drafted him that he was farther along than other tackles in the draft," Tice said. "We felt like we were going to get a guy that was ready to step in early. From the second week since he's been with us, he's taken all of the reps with the ones."

On the first day of practice, Matthews, the son of Hall of Famer Bruce Matthews, served notice that he wouldn't be taking any mess. After blocking defensive end Kroy Biermann several yards down the field, he hit the veteran in the face after he wouldn't release his jersey.

Biermann got ticked and the first fight of training came ensued.

In a joint practice against the Titans, Matthews was stout in pass protection, a major problem for the Falcons, who gave up 44 sacks last season.

Tice believes that Matthews can sustain this high-level of play he's set over the first 10 training camp practices.

"It's going to continue," Tice said. "I don't even worry about him. Sometimes I don't even watch him on film because I have to look at the other stuff and try to clean that up."

Peter King, the Sports Illustrated writer and editor of, was impressed with Matthews on his visit to Falcons camp.

"A quick little picture in my practice day with the Falcons: Jake Matthews (was) in the two-minute drill (and) playing right tackle, King said. "(He) stoned the pass rusher on seven consecutive hurry-up snaps in the two-minute drill. Let me tell you, when the Falcons saw that, they said, 'We haven't seen this in years. A right tackle who could actually stop people.' "

While that is a great observation, Matthews' ability was hardly a secret. projected him as the No. 6 overall prospect in the drafter, exactly where he was picked, and described him as "an enforcer who can consume defenders. He moved from right to left tackle last season to protect QB Johnny Manziel's blind side and proved he is NFL ready. The latest NFL prospect from the famous Matthews gene pool, Jake is the son of 19-year veteran Hall of Famer Bruce (Houston, Tennessee) and looks it."

Tice plans to have Matthews, who is the center piece of the revamped offensive line, and the rest of his unit on the move.

The line has been working on pulling extensively and executing blocks in the open field.

The technique is not new to the Falcons' playbook, but he plans to use it more often.

"Some of the schemes were already in the offense," Tice said. "Maybe our ratio is a little bit higher in calling them. It's something that I've done for years, pulling the center."

Tice believes pulling linemen help the offense schematically defeat containment.