The lockout hasn't tempered Bruce Matthews' enthusiasm for his return to the Tennessee Titans organization.
Matthews was one of the first hires Mike Munchak made when he ascended from offensive line coach to head coach of the Titans in February. It was a situation where Matthews, who had been assistant offensive line coach for the rival Houston Texans, not only had the chance to rejoin his best friend Munchak, but also the opportunity to coach his son Kevin.
Matthews said that when Kevin signed with the Titans as an undrafted free agent last year that it rekindled the spark between him and the organization he carved out a Hall of Fame career with over 19 seasons.
“Obviously I'm very comfortable here and when Kevin came back, it really rekindled a lot of the old feelings, even though I wanted to beat them when we played them,” Matthews told TitanInsider. “And the opportunity to coach for Munch. I wasn't looking to leave the Texans, but when this opportunity came up, it was just something I couldn't pass up.”
Matthews is in a situation much like he was when the franchise was in its nomadic state in 1997-98. Because his son Michael, who has committed to Texas A&M, is a rising senior in Houston, Matthews' wife Carrie will stay behind with the family this year and Bruce will go it alone in Nashville in 2011.
As a reminder of the old days, Matthews said he drove by the site of the temporary facility in Bellevue recently, just see where the trailers, makeshift practice fields and locker rooms existed.
“I drove over there a few weeks ago and saw it. How soon they forget?” he joked.
Matthews is inheriting a group that not only includes his son, but potentially every player from 2009 if free agent Leroy Harris re-signs – a move that is expected to take place once the lockout ends.
“It's very comforting. There's a lot of talent and a lot of rugged durability among these guys,” Matthews said. “Jake Scott, Dave Stewart and Michael Roos, I believe, played every snap last year, and that really is kind of a phenomenal thing. It's something they tend to take for granted. Fernando (Velasco), Kevin, Ryan Durand and (Mike) Otto and (Troy) Kropog actually got some action as well, and that's good, because injuries will happen eventually. You hope they don't, but it's something you have to prepare for.”
Of course, the lockout has put a damper on everything for now, but Matthews has used his time wisely. He already knew several members of the Titans offensive line because they had attended a charity golf tournament and Munchak put on each year in Houston.
“I had known some of the guys from charity events when they came on as Titans,” Matthews said. “We have a Special Olympic tournament that Munch and I host down in Houston. So I'd chatted with some of them a little bit there. We had a brief meeting when the lockout was lifted, and that was pretty cool. But I'm kind of anxious about this whole thing as well. It's going to be interesting for me and for (assistant line coach) Art Valero as well. I'm looking forward to it.”