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Hageman finished 2013 with a career-high 13 tackles for minus-50 yards. The 6-foot, 310-pounder takes as much pride in his vertical jump - 35½ inches - as he does in his ability to pressure the quarterback.

He will compete with Osi Umenyiora, Jackson and Biermann for playing time at end.

“My junior year, I definitely got more sacks, and last year I had to find another way of making plays,” Hageman said. “It’s just the same as getting sacks, so I’m definitely going to use my vertical as an advantage to swat down balls.”

Matthews was seemingly born and raised to play in the NFL.

He’s the seventh member of his family to play in the league. His father, Bruce Matthews, was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame after 19 seasons with the Houston Oilers, Tennessee Oilers and Tennessee Titans.

Bruce Matthews, at Falcons headquarters on Friday with the rest of his immediate family, said that Jake has a chance to be better than his old man.

“He realizes how he’s been blessed, and he doesn’t want to waste it,” Bruce Matthews said. “He comes in with that attitude and he’s ready to get after it. He’s not joking when he says he’s ready to go to work. He is.”

Smith has talked a lot over the last few months about being embarrassed that the Falcons couldn’t run the ball effectively or protect Ryan last year.

He believes Jake Matthews adds an important piece to a new foundation, though it’s not immediately clear the incoming rookie will play on the left side or right side.

“I think Jake epitomizes what we wanted to address in the offseason,” Smith said. “We wanted to get bigger. We wanted to get stronger. We want to control the line of scrimmage, and when you see the skill set that he shows on tape it just pointed us to him. You don’t even have to spend but a few minutes with him and you know what kind of person he is.”

Atlanta’s rookie mini-camp is May 16-18.



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