Matthews, like several others, noticed the up-tempo pace that Joe Philbin runs practice with.
“Everybody says it’s fast. It really is fast,” Matthews said. “You’ve got to be together mentally and physically.”
During his two seasons at Nevada, Matthews did a little bit of everything, including fielding punts for the Wolfpack. He, of course, primarily starred at receiver, catching a career-high 91 passes despite having to play with three different quarterbacks. Matthews’ wide receivers coach, Scott Baumgartner, said that he’s sad to see Matthews go, but that he’s prepared to make the transition to the NFL.
“He’s a big, strong, physical-type receiver that can run also,” Baumgartner said. “Obviously I’d like to have for a few more years myself.”
Matthews’ blend of size, speed and agility is impressive in and of itself. But when you factor in the fact that his production didn’t suffer in spite of Nevada’s shaky quarterback play in 2011, it makes the rookie receiver even more intriguing. CBSSports.com’s Rob Rang said that Matthews made some of the most impressive “non-catches” of any receiver in the nation last year.
“When Nevada lost their record-breaking quarterback Colin Kaepernick, frankly, I think people expected Matthews’ numbers to tail off,” Rang said. “Instead, they actually improved this season.”
Obviously his ability is indicative of his overall production, but Matthews’ versatility may have been best captured on just one play.
“He’s just electric with the football,” said Chris Kouffman, who writes for UniversalDraft.com. “There’s a reverse play he ran against Boise St. in 2010, you’ve really got to see this one. I can’t even tell you how many guys he made miss.”
As the play was developing, it was clear that Matthews would need to improvise if it was going to work; the Boise St. defenders had shot the gaps and were waiting for him in the backfield. Matthews deflected credit for the play, though, instead praising his blockers for opening up a path.
“Right when I got it, they knew exactly what we were doing. I had the defense pursuing it right away,” Matthews said. “(Current Denver Bronco) Virgil Green had a nice chop block. I cut back and made it to the endzone.”
Being thrown into the fire can be daunting for a young player, but Matthews plans to try to get ahead of the game with tireless preparation. Since Ryan Tannehill already has a decent grasp on the playbook, it’s imperative for the other young players to quickly get on the same page.
“Before Ryan’s done telling the play, I want to know what I’m doing,” Matthews said. “I definitely need to improve that, and I look forward to doing that. I’m going to be in my playbook tonight.”
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