Falcons' Jake Matthews motivated by pride, not his contract

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Atlanta Falcons left tackle Jake Matthews, the sixth-overall pick in the 2014 draft, knows he needs to elevate his play entering his fourth season.

Matthews has had his share of good moments, including an outstanding second season, showing why he is trusted to protect Matt Ryan. But there have been some noticeable hiccups over the past three years, some related to Matthews having to rebound from significant injuries.

The Falcons have already picked up Matthews' fifth-year option at a value of $12.5 million for 2018. And once the 2017 season ends and Matthews moves into his option year, there will be discussions about a contract extension and his value.

The Falcons already rewarded undrafted right tackle Ryan Schraeder with a five-year, $31.5 million extension ($12.5 million guaranteed), and Schraeder has gotten more national recognition for his play than Matthews over the past year.

What outsiders say, however, is not a motivating factor for Matthews.

"I put a lot of pressure on myself to do well," he said. "I'm not going to change anything. I come out here and try to work hard and get better every day. It's not like, 'Oh, now it's time, with a fifth-year option and a new contract to come.' I'm going to go out there and play the best I can every time. It doesn't matter."

The coaches certainly want Matthews to be more physical and dominate like a top-10 pick. One of the areas of emphasis is holding up better against bull rushes.

"I've done a pretty good job so far in [training] camp here," Matthews said of working against bull rushes. "It's hard blocking guys on the edge. They've got a ton of options. That's my job, though. That's what they brought me in here to do, and I feel confident in doing it.

"There's always stuff to learn. You're going to have a play here and there that isn't the way you want it to go. But that's part of the game. It's all about how you bounce back and get it done and end up winning."

Matthews was asked which player has been the toughest bull-rusher he's faced.

"Let's keep it in the family: I'd go with my cousin, Clay," Jake Matthews said of Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Clay Matthews. "He knows how to bring a good bull rush. He's a good pass-rusher. Yeah, I always enjoy going against him."

Offensive line coach Chris Morgan talked about his expectations of Matthews.

"You know, Jake has a couple of things he needs to work on, just like everybody else," Morgan said "He knows what they are. The point-of-attack tapes [coach Dan Quinn] talked about, he's got a couple of things on there. And he's putting the work in right now. He's really working hard to address them.

"We've got a couple of issues that we're trying to clean up on the back side of the run game. We've got a couple of things with hand placement in protection. Couple things like that. But Jake is a talented guy, for sure. He's working hard and he's grinding along."

Matthews is not going to dwell on his mistakes. That's why the costly holding penalty in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl loss to New England is something he says he never thinks about.

"We've moved past all that stuff," he said. "Now it's on to this season."