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Clay Matthews navigates fresh start with Rams, sans tan

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After 10 seasons, a Super Bowl title and six Pro Bowl appearances as a member of the Green Bay Packers, Matthews’ new title doesn’t quite roll off the tongue.

Even for Matthews.

Recently, the outside linebacker was asked to record a short video — the kind players routinely make for team websites or events. It’s the type of thing Matthews has completed countless times throughout his career.
Matthews, 33, had no plans of joining a new team this late in his career. A first-round pick by the Packers in 2009, he thought, after 10 seasons, his career would end in the same place it started. But when the Packers informed Matthews after last season that they were moving in a different direction, he opened his mind to 31 other teams, then focused on the Rams.

Nearly three months after Matthews signed a two-year contract, with $5.5 million in guarantees, his fair skin still shows no hint of a California tan. But as the Rams enter the final phase of the offseason program with mandatory minicamp, Matthews is settling in with a renewed energy.nike nfl jerseys wholesale cheap

“It’s definitely different, especially when you’re in a rhythm of going to the same place, knowing all the people out there in Green Bay and just having a routine,” Matthews said. “That being said, it’s almost nice to break that routine, and although there’s some anxiety that’s involved in that and some nerves … because of the change of pace, because it’s something new, but it also breathes some new life and fresh air into you.”5

Finding his footing on the football field, even in a new scheme with new coaches and teammates, has appeared rather seamless. That’s not a surprise for an accomplished player who has 84.5 career sacks.

Off the field, however, the transition, at least for a short period, felt like traveling back in time, Matthews said.

“The first two weeks were, I mean, I hate to use the word difficult, but it was new,” Matthews said. “Which I haven’t had to experience since my rookie year.”

For a 10-year veteran, “new” meant not only navigating his way through an unfamiliar playbook but through far more basic tasks. It required him to open Google Maps to navigate to the practice facility, despite growing up in the area, but then the app provided no answer as to how to make his way beyond the secured gate at the front entrance. “How do I get in? Is there security? Is there a key card?” Matthews wondered, before he gained entry, then was tasked with figuring out exactly where to park.cheap nike nfl jerseys paypal

“It’s a free-for-all with the hyenas back there,” Matthews said, chuckling, about the first-come, first-serve offseason parking protocol. “So if you get here early, obviously you get a better spot.”

If only there was a Google Maps to navigate inside the Rams’ temporary training facility, because that would have proved helpful, too.

“The meeting room is kind of like a labyrinth, as far as all the rooms, where sometimes I would step into the quarterbacks room — where you kind of have to cross the hall there, but I’ve kind of figured it out now,” Matthews said. “It’s really not all that big — it’s just disjointed a little bit.”

Safety Eric Weddle, whom Matthews has developed a quick connection with since the two became acquainted at previous Pro Bowls, went through a similar transition after he spent nine seasons with the then-San Diego Chargers and then signed as an unrestricted free agent with the Baltimore Ravens in 2016.

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