Packers-Titans family affair for Matthews' brood


Packers-Titans family affair for Matthews' brood

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Bruce Matthews watches Green Bay film first as an uncle. Then he hits replay and studies the defense in his role as Tennessee's offensive line coach.

Each time, he's watching the same Packers linebacker.

``He's a great player,'' Bruce said of his nephew, Clay Matthews. ``It isn't like he's just some guy out there. He definitely is the guy who makes things happen on their defense, and he's a guy we really have to make a pointed effort to account for him, which we're doing.''

The Packers linebacker is just the best-known member of the third generation carrying on the Matthews' NFL tradition, and this is the latest family football showdown. Bruce, a Hall of Fame lineman, spent 19 years with the Houston-Tennessee franchise and played against brother Clay, a 19-year linebacker with Cleveland and Atlanta, 23 times.

Clay Matthews Sr. got it all started with his four seasons with the San Francisco 49ers in the 1950s.

For Clay III, he said Thursday that his family's NFL success added to his motivation. He went from a walk-on at Southern California to being drafted in the first round - just like his father and uncle - by Green Bay 2009.

``Obviously, growing up in a football family where - you're right, not only my father played but my uncle and grandfather, played, that's what I wanted to do,'' the Packers linebacker said. ``Fortunately I was healthy enough and blessed to fall into the situation I'm in right now, but they were absolutely instrumental role models in getting me where I'm at today.''

Titans coach Mike Munchak had a close view of the Matthews' brothers' rivalry in the old AFC Central as a teammate of Bruce's for years. Munchak said it's exciting for his offensive line coach to watch film knowing his job is to stop his nephew from having a good day.

So no pressure there.

``Hopefully, he'll reach out to him during the week and tell him we have all types of plans for him to kind of discourage him a little bit, maybe slow him down,'' Munchak said. ``It's a great challenge.''

Clay Matthews has 11 sacks so far this season for the Packers, so watching him play is a bit different from what Bruce Matthews saw when he studied his brother during the 1980s and 1990s. Even so, he says his nephew reminds him very much of his brother, a four-time Pro Bowler.

``He can cover. He can play against the run, and obviously he can rush the passer,'' the Titans' assistant said. ``It's just a matter of what they're asking him to do as to some point in the game he does all three, and obviously, he isn't a one-dimensional guy. He plays with passion, so it's fun to watch guys like that, especially when you count him as a family member.''

This game was set to be even more of a family affair until Bruce's son, Kevin, sprained his right ankle Monday night against the Jets. He had started two straight games at center, but now may wind up on injured reserve if the Titans need an extra healthy player.

Kevin said he had been waiting for this game for both the chance to play at Lambeau Field and against his cousin. They text often, and Kevin said Clay had asked him to give up some plays to help him against the Titans.

``I told him he doesn't need any help from us,'' Kevin said. ``He's doing a good job this year.''

This could be a preview of coming attractions. Clay's brother, Casey, is a linebacker with the Eagles, while Bruce's son, Jake, is a junior offensive lineman at Texas A&M and considered a top draft candidate.

For now, the focus is on Sunday and family bragging rights with the Titans (5-9) already are eliminated from playoff contention and the Packers (10-4) honing their game for the postseason. With the Titans in the AFC and the Packers in the NFC, these teams hadn't played in the regular season since 2008.

``It's one of those things you think about, but you never think it's going to come to fruition ...'' Clay said. ``It'll be something to look back on and talk about. But it'll be more interesting when Sunday rolls around to see what he's going to do.''

He will line up opposite Titans left tackle Michael Roos, the lone starter left on a patched-up offensive line. How much help Roos gets from his position coach against Clay remains to be seen. Uncle Bruce is giving nothing away before kickoff.

``I don't know that we all anticipated the kind of success and kind of rock star quality he has right now, but it's really fun to watch and I'm very proud of him. But like I've always said, I love to see him do well, just not this week.''

NOTES: The Titans practiced indoors Thursday due to a soggy field. Winds gusting to 40 mph kept the bubble over the field swaying, and Munchak said his key was just not looking up. ... Rookie WR Kendall Wright (ribs) did not practice, though WR Damian Williams (hamstring) practiced fully. LB Colin McCarthy (concussion) also practiced fully.


AP National Writer Nancy Armour contributed to this report from Green Bay, Wis.


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Follow Teresa M. Walker on Twitter at www.teresamwalker

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We have ourselves a goalie rotation in Washington


We have ourselves a goalie rotation in Washington

It’s happened. The Caps no longer seem to have a No. 1 goalie anymore, they have a No. 1 and 1a.

That’s right, we have a goalie rotation in Washington.

“There's no sense riding one,” Barry Trotz said after practice on Monday. “[Braden Holtby] is coming back and looking better every game and [Philipp Grubauer] played pretty well for a long stretch so why not have both of them going?”

Grubauer got the start Sunday in Philadelphia and Holtby is slated to get the start Tuesday against the Dallas Stars. After that we will have to wait and see.


Trotz has no layout for which goalie he wants to start and when in the remaining ten games. He is not thinking about each goalie splitting five games or which one he wants to use more.

Nope. Trotz has just one thing on his mind. It is all about who starts the next game, that’s it.

“I think you just go with a guy that's hot at the time and your team feels comfortable with and go from there,” Trotz said.

So where does this leave the goaltending situation when it comes to the playoffs? A goalie rotation is all well and good in the regular season, but he has to have one starter for the postseason, right?

Not necessarily.


When Trotz was asked if he philosophically believed in having one starter for the playoffs, Trotz initially said he would not answer, but then said, “Why don't you ask Mike Sullivan what he thinks.”

Sullivan, of course, is the head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins who has led his team to a Stanley Cup in each of the past two seasons despite turning to both goalie Marc-Andre Fleury and Matt Murray in both seasons.

While Pittsburgh’s goalie rotation was largely based on injury, however, it still provides an example of how using both goalies can work in the playoffs and that seems to be the path the Caps are headed on at the moment.

Said Trotz, “You just have to go with your gut who you think is going to get the job done.”

UMBC's NCAA Tournament hopes end vs. Kansas State, but its Cinderella run was unforgettable


UMBC's NCAA Tournament hopes end vs. Kansas State, but its Cinderella run was unforgettable

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — UMBC's improbable run through the NCAA Tournament was brief. The statement the Retrievers made and their place in history is forever.

For one weekend in March, the tiny commuter school from Baltimore known for its academics and championship-winning chess team captured the hearts of the college basketball world and beyond. UMBC became the first No. 16 seed to knock off a No. 1 in March Madness, a victory over Virginia that made the Retrievers the ultimate Cinderella.

The fairytale came to an end Sunday night in a 50-43 loss to No. 9 Kansas State -- heartbreaking because it was a game UMBC could have won, but still satisfying because the Retrievers touched so many people by accomplishing what many thought was impossible.

"We put our name on the map. We gave hope to teams that come to the tournament with lower seeds," said senior guard K.J. Maura. "I think we gave hope to guys that are not even that tall like me. People that feel like they are underdogs in their life, I think we gave hope to everything they want to do in life."


Stephen Curry noticed the team and sent UMBC the sneakers the team wore against Kansas State. The Golden State Warriors had his Curry 5s, which are in limited release, and other swag sent to the team. U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams declared the Retrievers "Surgeon General approved" and posted a photo of himself on Facebook wearing a sweatshirt from his alma mater.

NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers tweeted to UMBC guard Joe Sherburne, who claims to be Rodgers' biggest fan. And for a team addicted to the video game "Fortnite," their dreams were made when Ninja, a popular gamer who recently played against rapper Drake and JuJu Smith-Schuster of the Pittsburgh Steelers, FaceTimed with the team early Sunday.

"They play with passion, they play with heart, they play together," coach Ryan Odom said. "We do things together for one another, and obviously when you have a big win like that (over Virginia) and it's so shocking, you know, people love to see that. They love to see the upset.

"And our guys handled it with grace and understood the circumstances. They weren't pounding their chests or anything. They expected to be here and expected to compete."

When UMBC returned to the locker room following its ouster, Odom had written just one word on the whiteboard. The Retrievers needed a buzzer-beating 3 against Vermont to win their conference title and make the NCAA Tournament, but they showed up believing they could beat Virginia, and the same about Kansas State.


So Odom simply penned "Proud" on the board for his players.

"Just very proud of these kids and what they've been able to do as the representatives that they are for our university," Odom said. "Just captured our country and beyond, to be honest, from a sporting perspective and it's really, really neat to see."

Sherburne said Odom relayed stories from friends who had texted or called from outside the country to rave about UMBC. Near tears after an 0-for-9 shooting night, Sherburne found consolation in the joy UMBC brought to so many.

"From when we beat Vermont until the last two hours were the greatest time of my life," Sherburne said. "What we did, everyone in here, it's the greatest time of our lives."

Odom arrived at UMBC two years ago and inherited a team accustomed to losing. He told them he was going to get them to .500 that first year; they thought he was joking. But slowly the culture changed and the Retrievers did everything Odom told them they could accomplish.

And then some.

"When I got here, first we were a four-win team that year, and then the next year we went on to win seven games," said graduate student Jairus Lyles. "Then Coach Odom and his staff came in, we won 21 games and this year we had a tremendous season."

Odom doesn't know how far the UMBC program can grow. Those four letters are now synonymous with the biggest upset in college basketball history, but it's a long way from becoming a basketball school.

"UMBC is a unique place -- lot of high achieving kids on campus," Odom said. "We want guys that want to be great from a basketball perspective and want to play after college. But, at the same time, we want folks that are highly motivated academically that want to do great things past basketball. Because the air goes out of the ball at some point for everybody."