The battle for the starting positions at defensive end is one of, if not the, most hotly contested right now for the Atlanta Falcons. The challengers for the positions are considerable…and significant. Osi Umenyiora, Stansly Maponga, Malliciah Goodman and Jonathan Massaquoi, just to name a few.
Then there’s Cliff Matthews, who admittedly isn’t mentioned as much as he should be. That being said, what part will Matthews play in the defensive end competition? Perhaps the more relevant question is, will he play a part in that particular rivalry?
Matthews showed up for the minicamp a bit bulkier than he was last season; he’s added about ten pounds of muscle. A surprise, but not a totally unexpected one considering the Falcons drafted two defensive ends this year. It’s safe to say he sees the long list of DE’s now written on the wall; it’s also safe to say that he wants to prove his worth in other areas besides defensive end. Defensive tackle is one area of possibility; however, note the keyword there is ‘possibility.’ As a plus for Matthews, Falcons head coach Mike Smith has definitely noticed his efforts, saying, “He’s worked extremely hard. He’s a guy that we are counting on being a part of our rotation.”
Where in that rotation will Matthews land?
All things considered, making the move to defensive tackle would be a good one for Matthews. There is available depth at defensive tackle, but additional productive depth at the position is needed. He could be just what the doctor (or in this case, coaching staff) ordered.