The Atlanta Falcons' decision to release veteran defensive end Ray Edwards is good news for Cliff Matthews, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Matthews is 6'8, 268 pounds, which makes him a good fit for the 6'9, 268-pound Edwards.
Edwards saw most of his snaps come against the run, making Matthews' size key to sliding him in to the Falcons' base 4-3 defense. It isn't just his size, though, as defensive line coach Ray Hamilton had praise for the second-year pro:
"We think that he's come along enough to get in there and get a few snaps...He looks like the real deal. He's a guy that we've brought along slowly...We need a big physical guy, so Cliff could be the one who mostly benefits by what has happened."
Matthews played his college ball at South Carolina and was second-team All-SEC in 2010. He was selected by Atlanta in the seventh round of the 2011 NFL Draft, was inactive for all 16 games of the 2011 season, and he has seen most of his playing time come on special teams. Matthews will only be third on the depth chart, behind John Abraham and Lawrence Sidbury, but he knows how big of an opportunity it is: