Tice assesses Matthews at left tackle

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Atlanta Falcons offensive line coach Mike Tice didn't expect rookie first-round pick Jake Matthews to be perfect in his first NFL game at left tackle.

He wasn't.

Matthews got whistled for a false start and a hold in the first quarter of Saturday’s 24-17 exhibition loss to Tennessee. Then in the second quarter, he was beat on an inside move that led to Matt Ryan getting sacked.

"He jumped the guy, and he brought his feet together," Tice said of Matthews. "He got out of balance. He rushed it."

The line, as a whole, protected Matt Ryan well, which pleased Tice. But the run blocking wasn't up to par, and Matthews contributed to those woes.

"He had a couple of brain farts out there thinking," Tice said. "He had some growing pains, some learning things. He had a couple mistakes. He had a mental and, obviously, he gave up a sack.

"He didn't struggle, but he had more bad plays than he had on the right side. And he’s in there for three practices. We figured that it wasn't going to be smooth sailing, especially against a couple of good players."

Tice sees no reason to panic, however.

"He'll be better [today]," Tice said. "And he'll be better in the game this week, if we play him. And we'll go from there."

Everything seemed so simple for Matthews as he dominated at right tackle throughout training camp. Seeing him stonewall guys in practice became a regular occurrence. He even performed well against Houston pass-rush demon J.J. Watt in joint practices against the Texans.

"I thought the first time through, J.J. got him," Tice said. "I thought the second time through, it was a tie. And I thought in the team stuff, I thought Jake fared very well. So that’s a good thing. You want to go against the best players."

Then starting left tackle Sam Baker goes down with a season-ending knee injury in the game against the Texans, immediately forcing Matthews to the left side. Although he played left tackle last year at Texas A&M, even Matthews admitted it would take some time to readjust.

The biggest thing Tice rode Matthews about at right tackle was improving his right hand. That's no longer the case.

"His right hand got fixed when he moved to the left side," Tice said. "I told him, 'If I knew that was going to be fixed when I moved you to the left side, I would have moved you sooner.’ He said, `I would never do that to Sam Baker.'"

"His hands are better on the left side, much better than on the right side. He probably has more confidence."

Now, it'’s just a matter of Matthews getting into a left tackle routine.

"He's been in a right-hand stance since April or whenever the hell I got him -- May," Tice said. "He's done everything at right tackle since the first week. He didn't miss a snap with the ones. He’s probably got the most plays of any lineman on our team in the offseason and in training camp. And then all of sudden, poof, you’re a left tackle. It’s going take a little bit of time.

"He'll get all that cleaned up. It's just going to take a little time. It’s not going to happen by Jacksonville, either. We don’t expect it to."

How Matthews progresses as a run blocker might be the aspect worth monitoring the most moving forward.

"Like many young players [who] are coming into this league from a passing program, he's got a long way to go with his run blocking," Tice said. "When he played for Mike Sherman, he was in a pro-style offense. So he’s done it all before. Then [Texas A&M] came in with the new staff and went to the passing stuff and the two-point stance. He's just got to continue to work on it and feel comfortable in his stance."