Second-Year WR Matthews Gaining Confidence

Posted Mar 27, 2013

Strong finish to rookie season has seventh-round pick thinking big.

Despite showing flashes of brilliance during training camp as a rookie last season, Miami Dolphins wide receiver Rishard Matthews had to bide his time early on and earn his keep on special teams.

But when his number was finally called, the seventh-round pick out of Nevada didn’t waste his opportunity and found himself in the offensive huddle in six of the last seven games. Matthews ended the season with 11 catches for 151 yards for a 13.7 average and reeled in three passes of 20 yards or more. That valuable experience has the California native looking forward to this season and the possibilities it brings for him.

“I learned how important it is to take care of your body, being professional on and off the field and just making sure you know what you’re doing when you get out there,” said Matthews, who spent most of the last two months in Texas where his sister lives keeping up with his cardio. “I wish I could have tried to get an opportunity earlier last season but you can only control what you can control and that’s how I’m approaching it and I’m just going to make sure I continue to get better as I go, gain the confidence of the coaching staff and hopefully continue to still play.”

The Dolphins’ receiving corps has gotten a bit of a facelift this month with the additions of speedster Mike Wallace (photos, highlights, interview) and a talented possession guy in Brandon Gibson (photos, highlights, interview) through free agency. Their presence will only stiffen the competition for playing time and place yet another challenge in front of Wallace that he will try to meet.

Matthews made his first NFL reception count as he hauled in a 19-yard pass from quarterback Ryan Tannehill at the Buffalo Bills in a nationally televised Thursday night game. Two weeks later he made a 28-yard catch at home against the New England Patriots and had a better outing against them in the season finale at Gillette Stadium with three catches for 36 yards, including a 20-yarder.

When Miami won two of its last three games at home against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 15 and the Buffalo Bills the following week, Matthews played a big role. He caught three passes for 23 yards in the 24-3 win over Jacksonville and then added two catches for 37 yards, including a 30-yarder, in the 24-10 win over the Bills. He set some firm goals for Year 2.

“I just want to try to learn all of the positions and I was talking to (special teams coordinator Darren) Rizzi about learning different positions on special teams,” Matthews said. “I’m just trying to contribute as much as I can and when I do get the opportunity actually make something happen. If the ball’s thrown my way I’ve got to catch it and if we need a first down then make the play and make things happen in practice and be consistent in the games.

“Having that experience and the first year behind me in this offense and in the league, that’s what it’s about. Now I know what to expect going into OTAs and training camp and I’m getting the chemistry down with Tannehill. We’re just all excited. We’ve got a young squad and a lot of talented players and I’m excited for this season.”

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