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Rams

Clay Matthews ready to prove himself ‘all over again’ with Rams

Clay Matthews takes a break during training camp at UC Irvine.
After 10 years in Green Bay, Clay Matthews aims to bolster the Rams’ linebacking crew.
(Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times)

His NFL resume includes a Super Bowl title and six Pro Bowl selections. As a 10-year veteran, he does not appear to have much left to prove.

But new Rams linebacker Clay Matthews apparently does not see it that way.

On Monday, Matthews was among several veterans who were excused from afternoon practice.

Still, that didn’t stop Matthews, 33, from going through a series of 100-yard sprints before the workout.

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That commitment — along with his 83½ sacks for the Green Bay Packers — was part of the package that spurred the Rams to sign Matthews as a free agent. Matthews and six-time Pro Bowl safety Eric Weddle are veteran additions to a team that is expected to contend for a return trip to the Super Bowl.

“When you go to a new team, you get to prove yourself all over again,” he said, adding, “It provides a level of energy that perhaps hasn’t been there for the past few years, so I’m excited about that.”

Aaron Donald is enthusiastic to be in Rams training camp after sitting out the last two. Will a full camp help him win NFL defensive player of the year again?

The 6-foot 3-inch, 255-pound Matthews, who grew up in Agoura and starred for USC, is excited about joining a defense that includes star lineman Aaron Donald and cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib among others.

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Matthews will play as an edge rusher and also possibly as an inside linebacker for a defense coming off a stout performance in the Rams’ 13-3 Super Bowl defeat by the New England Patriots.

“There is so much talent around here,” Matthews said, adding, “We should be able to put something together and do something special.”

Matthews had a career-low 3½ sacks last season for a Packers team that finished 6-9-1. The Rams signed him to a two-year contract that includes $5.5 million in guarantees, according to overthecap.com.

In March, Matthews said he had the ability to produce as had before. He described himself as “a difference-maker” and said he was looking forward to showing “what you saw these past 10 years in what you’ll get for the next two.”

The Rams, he said, were “a perfect fit.”

Edge rushers Dante Fowler and Samson Ebukam said they are soaking up knowledge from Matthews, who had a career-best 13½ sacks during the Packers’ run to the Super Bowl title in 2010.

“He’s been awesome,” Ebukam said. “Just to have that veteran out there, being able to read offenses a lot quicker, and then he relays the information to us. I’m going to use that to my advantage.”

Matthews welcomes the role of the sage elder. He recalled that after establishing himself with the Packers, he still deferred to and learned from Julius Peppers after the veteran joined the team.

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Todd Gurley’s left knee didn’t slow down the Rams star running back during Saturday’s training camp session. Jared Goff likes what he sees from Gurley.

“With Dante and Samson, especially, I’ve been trying to help them out, pick their brains and make sure they pick mine as well,” Matthews said.

Matthews also appears to be embracing the Rams’ approach to training camp and the preseason. Coach Sean McVay has made it clear that starters and key rotational players will not play in preseason games so that they will be physically sound for the Sept. 8 opener against the Carolina Panthers.

McVay utilized a similar approach with many players in 2017 and all key players in 2018.

“They took some heat in the preseason when they didn’t play their starters, but that seemed to work out well for them,” Matthews said.

Monday’s day off was apparently not the first break Matthews has enjoyed during training camp.

He and his wife welcomed their third child in March.

“Our son Clay IV likes to join us in bed most nights,” Matthews said. “So, actually, coming to camp was, believe it or not, I got to take a couple days off.”

Etc.

After having Sunday off, running back Todd Gurley practiced Monday. ... The Rams will practice in full pads Tuesday, McVay said. ... A Louisiana judge ordered that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and three officials from January’s NFC title game be questioned under oath in September about the pass-interference penalty that was not called against Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman in the Rams’ victory over the New Orleans Saints. Attorney Antonio LeMon, who filed a lawsuit, said he and league attorneys would pick a mutually agreeable date for depositions in New Orleans — barring any league appeals that might delay or cancel the questioning. LeMon’s lawsuit seeks $75,000 in damages — to be donated to charity. ... Former Rams running back Steven Jackson, who rushed for more than 1,000 yards eight consecutive seasons from 2005 to 2012, signed a one-day contract and officially retired as a Ram. Jackson also played two seasons for the Atlanta Falcons and finished his 12-year career with the Patriots. He took a ceremonial handoff after practice and ran to the end zone, where he was congratulated by Rams players.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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