Titans' Kevin Matthews may get shot at starting center role

Tuesday, June 12, 2012 at 12:05am

The images do not flicker in grainy black and white. They are in full color, consistent with the times.

Yet when Bruce Matthews watches practice video — or the occasional game film — of his son Kevin, there are moments that take him back in time.

“He reminds me of me sometimes — some of the stuff he does,” the Tennessee Titans offensive line coach, 51, said.

It might just take the trained eye of a Pro Football Hall of Famer, one who played 19 seasons in the NFL and set a record with 14 Pro Bowl appearances, to see many of the similarities. On the surface, after all, what they most have in common is their surname.

Kevin Matthews, 25, was not a first-round draft pick like his father. He entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent out of Texas A&M, where he originally was a walk-on. Whereas Bruce Matthews was a starter almost from the moment he entered the league, Kevin spent the majority of 2010 on the practice squad and never suited up for a game — let alone played — in 2011.

The current offseason and coming campaign, though, offer the opportunity for the son to follow a little more closely in his father’s footsteps.

Coming off a season in which they ranked next to last in the NFL in rushing yards per game, the Titans already have made changes at both guard positions and have shown they are willing to consider something different at center. The fact that Kevin Matthews is anything like his father could be just the sort of difference they want.

“This is the best opportunity I’ve had thus far,” Kevin Matthews said. “Coming in my first year I was just trying to make the squad because I wasn’t drafted. Last year I was just trying to make the squad.

“You come in to play in the NFL to start. You don’t want to back up your whole career. So if I’m going to make my push it’s going to be this year.”

Eugene Amano, the starting center each of the past two seasons, remains on the roster, but the franchise officials hosted and considered a handful of veteran free agents at that spot during the first two weeks of free agency. None have been signed — not yet, at least — but the message is clear.

Amano’s offseason work also has been limited by the effect of offseason surgeries. During the first week of June’s organized team activities he was held out of team drills completely, and last week he took part in only a small percentage of those snaps.

Enter Matthews the younger. He executed snaps with both the first and second teams during the first three days of OTAs, and did nearly as much last week.

“It’s never a bad thing to get as many reps as you can, especially when you’re young and trying to show everyone that you know what you’re doing,” he said. “I don’t mind being called upon to take some extra reps here or there.”

Likewise, it can’t hurt to come from the family he does.

“Kevin is a young player, but he grew up in probably the best household you could grow up in for getting a jumpstart on these things,” guard Steve Hutchinson, a free agent acquisition, said. “He’s got a great work ethic and he’s here every day during the week working out. He’s the first one in the building. Every time I get here — at 7 o’clock in the morning — he’s already here. That’s a good start. A lot of guys have the opposite attitude toward things. They want to see how little they can do.”

The truth is that Kevin Matthews has not done much thus far. In two years in the NFL he has played just three times with one start.

To some, though, there are times when he looks a little like one of the best to ever play.

4 Comments on this post:

By: 4gold on 6/12/12 at 7:04

Hah! Who didnt see that coming. Just can't find a center, turning proven players away but hey the coaches son needs a starting job. I will never understand why Harris and Amano are still on this team after the year they turned in last season but holdng a spot open for the coaches son? Too much good ole boy going on while the Titans sink to 3rd or 4th place in the division.

By: TITAN1 on 6/12/12 at 11:52

How do you know he isn't good enough to get the job on his own merits? You are always so negative of the Titans, Wait and see instead of predicting doom and gloom. Just to offset your negative response to this story, I'll predict they will win the division. Remember, it is just a prediction like yours, but a more positive one.

By: cookeville on 6/12/12 at 3:22

None they brought in for interviews was much better than Amano, if as good. I guess there isn't much out there. Just maybe Matthews has found his groove and can turn into a heck of a center. After all, he is his father's son. And I agree about the doom and gloom. What your life must be like, 4gold, if all you do is think negatively. Heck, they just now are starting their mini camps! Just cause you're miserable doesn't mean you have to spread the disease around!

GO TITANS!!!!!!!!!!!

By: 4gold on 6/13/12 at 6:19

The NFL guys have them picked behind Texans and Jacksonville. It is not just my opinion. Live in La La land if you want. I am tired of waiting on the Titans to do something since the first year in the stadium.