Falcons LT Jake Matthews: ‘There’s definitely a chip on our shoulders’

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The Atlanta Falcons began their voluntary offseason program on Tuesday and the majority of players showed up, including veteran offensive tackle Jake Matthews.

Following the Matt Ryan trade, Matthews is now the team’s longest-tenured player, and the only offensive player still on the team since the Falcons’ last playoff appearance.

Matthews discussed Ryan’s departure and a number of other topics after Tuesday’s workout.

On Matt Ryan's departure:

“It’s definitely surreal,” stated Matthews on what it’s like coming to workouts and not seeing Ryan in the building.

“Obviously, my entire career here, he’s been the guy. As well all know, he’s moved on now, but nothing but respect for him. He was a hell of a leader and it’s exciting too, what we got going on here. I’m really optimistic about what’s going on and the thing we’re building.”

On whether Atlanta is rebuilding:

“We have high expectations for ourselves, and there’s no doubt this year. We don’t look at it as a rebuilding year or anything like that.” Atlanta’s front office has been unwilling to admit this team is rebuilding, and Matthews’ views seem to reflect that.

“We take a lot of pride in what [we] do and the team we are, and the perception of us around the league. And Arthur talks about it all the time. When teams talk about us, we want them to identify us as a physical, finishing, well-conditioned, doesn’t-let-up team.”

On building team chemistry:

“Obviously there’s the working out and conditioning, strengthening, all that. But one of the biggest things I’ve noticed is, building the camaraderie, being around the guys again.”

On the Falcons having a chip on their shoulders:

“There’s definitely a chip on our shoulders. With the change and a veteran quarterback leaving, we might get written off a lot of things. But you approach it like a pro and you come ready to work.

From what I saw today, it seems like even the new guys have that mindset. Our pros’ pros are going to come out here and show up and work hard.”

On signing 3-year extension:

“My agent approached me and said they’re interested in doing it. I couldn’t be happier, I love it here. I love what we have going on with Arthur — both Arthurs, Arthur Blank and Smith. And I jumped at the opportunity. I’m happy to be here long-term and I’m looking forward to the future here.”

On meeting Marcus Mariota:

“I talked with him a little bit today and all good stuff. Great guy from what I’ve been able to see thus far. Just talked about kind of similar to what I was telling you guys, Just the beginning of building that camaraderie.” Matthews and Mariota took the initial steps of just becoming teammates and building their relationship before the season begins.

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