Philadelphia Eagles News

Matthews Confident If Role Is Expanded

"You see consistency of play."

Defensive coordinator Bill Davis has endured decent fluctuation at the linebacker position through five games this season.

He lost linebacker Najee Goode to a torn pectoral muscle in the first game of the season. Linebacker Mychal Kendricks has been out of the lineup since the team's Week 2 win over the Indianapolis Colts. As a result, backup linebackers Casey Matthews and Emmanuel Acho have been seeing elevated roles at the inside linebacker position alongside DeMeco Ryans.

So when Ryans went down with a groin injury this past Sunday, the experience Matthews and Acho had accrued in the previous weeks came in handy. Matthews slid in for Ryans, began aligning the defense like Ryans would have, and seemingly didn't miss a beat.

"Casey has playing experience," Davis explained. "His first year here as a rookie, he was thrown in and he played a lot of snaps. So it's not too big for him when he gets out there. He, like DeMeco, is very good at setting our fronts and running the show, so when DeMeco did go out, we didn't really miss a beat with Casey, or Acho, because they're very intelligent, heady, football-savvy players.

"And that's really what (Matthews) gives you in there. He's solid, he sets everything up, he's a good leader in there as far as understanding what we're supposed to be in and getting us in those calls."

He's seen playing time sparingly over his first three seasons as an Eagle. He started the first three games in his rookie year of 2011, but only one game in the past two seasons.

But this season Matthews has been thrust into a more prevalent role and, after a few bumps in the beginning, has been playing very sturdy football as of late.

Against the Rams on Sunday, Matthews registered six tackles and two quarterback hurries. With 13 tackles on defense in the last two games, Matthews has more than in the previous two seasons combined when his focus was more on special teams (26 special teams tackles from 2012-13).

"Casey's stepped in and he's done a really good job," Ryans said of the fourth-year linebacker. "He's progressed over the past few weeks, and last week he played his best game."

Matthews said on Tuesday that he's feeling a lot more confident in his role this season, and whether he has to step in for Ryans come Sunday or just rotate with Acho like has the past few weeks, he's ready to help the defense however he can.

"I feel really confident (in directing the defense)," Matthews explained Tuesday. "Obviously, being in the meetings every day, just knowing and being ready any time a situation like this occurs. When the next man comes in, you can't just limit the playbook, you've got to be able to run the plays that are called and get the guys lined up. I'm confident in my ability to do that."

According to Matthews, he doesn't have a preference about playing either the strong or weak side.

"We're confident in whatever the coaches want us to play," Matthews said.

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