For veteran linebacker Clay Matthews, there’s a number of reasons why he landed in Los Angeles and with the Rams for an 11th season.
The list includes the Rams’ recent rise to becoming Super Bowl contenders, head coach Sean McVay’s roster loaded with big-name talent, the proximity of his new workplace to his family’s new home just a few miles from where he played his high school ball, and the club’s culture, which Matthews described as just... different.
“Obviously I’ve only played for one team, but there’s something different — an energy around here and I think that stems from being successful, but that ultimately comes from the right people being on this team,” he said.
“The thing is that when you have a young team, you have to make sure you have that right core of players and veteran leadership,” Matthews added, before rattling off names like cornerback Aqib Talib, wide receiver Brandin Cooks, left tackle Andrew Whitworth, and finally himself.
As for how the six-time Pro Bowler and Super Bowl champ plans to slot into his role as a leader on the defending NFC Champs, Matthews says he’ll stay the course — attend meetings, be at voluntary workouts, meet with coaches and teammates. The new Ram in town plans to go through his routine, despite joining a new team for the first time in his career. Showing a little personality and joining the Rams’ unique culture as a leader will come in due time.
And with five weeks back in Southern California under his belt, Matthews said he’s finally getting comfortable — but at first that wasn’t the case. Upon arrival, the vet backer had questions about where to park, eat, and meet with coaches and the defense at the team’s practice facility in Thousand Oaks, Calif., in addition to what his role might look like in defensive coordinator Wade Phillips’ defense.
On Monday, as Matthews headed for the locker room, which lies somewhere through the team’s weight room around the winding corners of the temporary facility, he told members of the Los Angeles media exactly where he’ll be on Sundays.
“Yeah as far as base defense on first and second down, I’ll be playing one of the outside linebacker positions,” Matthews said. “As far as third down and pass rusher situations, it’s so flexible as to where I could play on the outside or on the inside, so I think like they said when I first came here, that’s a little fluid. But as far as where they’ll put me in the program, it’ll say outside linebacker.”
Check out photos of the Los Angeles Rams on the field for day two of OTAs.
McVay was quick to point out Matthew’s versatility on defense, citing No. 52’s All-Pro honors at both outside and inside linebacker spots. And after his offense went against Matthews for the first time in OTAs, McVay said that as the veteran linebacker adapts to the culture in L.A., he’s got a lot to offer on the field as well.
“I think when you have players that enable you to be a bit more flexible with what you can give an offense to deal with, we are going to get a lot better.”