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Plenty Of Packers Connections For Matthews

The adjustment that players have to make from college to the NFL is often an imposing one, so for rookie outside linebacker Clay Matthews, it doesn't hurt to see some familiar faces in Green Bay's organization thanks to his family.

Matthews' background has been well documented since he was selected by the Packers in the first round (26th overall) last Saturday, with his grandfather, Clay Sr., his dad, Clay Jr., and his uncle, Bruce, all having played in the NFL. With a combined 42 years of experience between the three in professional football, they are bound to still have some connections to the NFL, and a few happen to reside Green Bay.

General Manager Ted Thompson, who played linebacker for 12 years with the Houston Oilers, was a teammate of Bruce's there for two seasons (1983-84). Green Bay's equipment manager, Red Batty, also worked for the Oilers for 13 seasons (1981-93), overlapping with Bruce for 11 of them (1983-93).

Following Saturday afternoon's media availability, Matthews and the rest of the rookies were headed to the weight room for a workout led by the team's first-year strength and conditioning coordinator, Dave Redding. Redding, who has 22 years of NFL coaching experience, was Cleveland's strength coach from 1982-88 when Matthews' father played linebacker for the Browns.

"There are so many people here that are in some way affiliated with my dad and my uncle, and just people that I know through my agency," Matthews said. "So it's been a smooth transition and it seems like a great fit."

Attending his father's games as a child, Matthews joked that his focus wasn't always on what was happening on the field, but the significance wasn't lost on him.

"I myself was too young to truly appreciate it because I was more interested in the food I was going to eat rather than how many tackles my dad was going to have," Matthews said. "That's unfortunate, but at the same time, I understood the magnitude of what he was doing.

"We are truly blessed by the NFL to have my dad and uncle play for so long and it has given so much back to us. I'm looking to do the same."

Matthews will also be linked to Thompson as only the second player that the GM has traded up to get in the draft, and the first time he moved into the first round, during his tenure in Green Bay.

"I heard it's pretty rare, especially with Ted Thompson not really trading up too often," Matthews said. "It means a great deal to me for them to want me to be a part of their program, and what they believe in me.

"I appreciate that because obviously you want a team that is going to believe in you and you want someone that is going to throw you in there and give you opportunities to make plays and really showcase your ability."

The Packers' rookie orientation weekend will wrap up with one final workout Sunday morning, and Matthews and the rest of the rookies will have a few weeks off before returning to Green Bay for workouts in mid-May and OTAs that begin later in the month.

While he is only through two days of on-field work, Matthews said he can already see improvement, which he'll need to continue throughout the offseason if he hopes to make an impact in his rookie campaign.

"I'm light years ahead of where I was yesterday," Matthews said. "Yesterday I was making mistakes left and right and today I felt like I did a great job. Obviously there is so much room for improvement. You have to understand all new terminology and play sets and calls and what you're supposed to do (in) switching to a 3-4.

"I'm looking forward to it. That's what everyone has to go through, so the sooner you can get acclimated to it, the sooner you can get on the field."

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