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Chasing a Dream: With Hall of Fame pedigree, Mike Matthews in Browns OL mix

The Browns rookies visited the Pro Football Hall of Fame last month, a trip that more or less served as the capstone event of the team's rookie transition program for the 24 newcomers. The jaunt to Canton left many of them with wide eyes in awe as they surveyed the hall and various gems stored within it.

But for Mike Matthews, the undrafted center from Texas A&M, it seemed to mean a little bit more.

"There's so much history behind (the game)," he said, "stuff that we don't really understand and take for granted."

After all, football is in his blood and this is a somewhat familiar place. Matthews is the son of Pro Football Hall of Famer Bruce Matthews (who was inducted in 2007) and nephew of legendary Browns linebacker Clay Matthews, and that pedigree has been well-documented over the past few months.

"Obviously coming here I was really excited to see my dad's bust with his induction in 2007. That was really cool and I'm really proud of that," Matthews said.

"And after hearing everything they had to say about the Hall of Fame and what it truly means to be a part of that fraternity. I kind of have a newfound respect. Obviously with the Hall of Fame, you know it's a big deal but now it's like you really understand how much of an honor it is and he's really blessed to be a part of that."

Matthews has taken a similar approach when it comes to his time in Cleveland as the Browns prepare to reconvene for training camp next Friday.

Matthews — the brother of Falcons first-round draft pick Jake Matthews — finds himself competing for a roster spot on an offensive line in search of starters at center and right tackle. During OTAs and minicamp, the three-year starter for the Aggies made a strong impression.  

"He's a tough kid. He's a smart kid, a competitive kid, comes from a good stock. Football is important to him. I'll be anxious to see him put the pads on and let him go," offensive line coach Hal Hunter said in June.

Head coach Hue Jackson echoed a similar sentiment in June and made it clear the Browns' interest in Matthews is greater than his family ties.

"If a guy can play, he can play. We are giving him an opportunity, and we will see more of him as we go," Jackson said. "Obviously, his bloodlines are spectacular. As we all know, that doesn't get you on a football team. He has to earn the right to be here. I think he understands that, as well. I think that is the way that he would want it to be."

Indeed, Matthews seems to be ready to make the most of his opportunity. A phone call from his uncle helped prepare him, too. "Right after I signed with the Browns, he called me. He told me I was going to love it here, that the people are awesome, the fans are awesome and the weather is beautiful, except in the winter." Matthews said. "I told him I loved the cold, but I figure I will be regretting that 10 days into a snow storm. He called me and told me that I was going to love it and was excited for me."

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