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10 questions with Bruce Matthews


Texans offensive assistant Bruce Matthews is settling into his role as a first-year NFL coach with the Texans. One of the great offensive linemen in NFL history, Matthews played 19 seasons with the Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans franchise from 1983-2001.

*1. What has your first training camp as a coach been like so far? Have you settled into the role? *

"It's been a learning experience. I think the biggest thing has been just realizing how much is involved in being a coach and how much time is required. I really enjoy the interaction with the players, the preparation for the game and the game plans. It's one of those things that as a player, you take so much for granted. You think, 'Hey, how'd this playbook get together? It just magically comes that way.' That's something that people work long and hard on to put together, and I have a greater appreciation for that."

*2. When you first signed on as an offensive assistant, Gary Kubiak said you'd be doing a lot of the "grunt work" for the offensive coaches. How is that going? *

"It's an opportunity to learn everything from the ground up, and really, I didn't want any special treatment. I think something that I learned because my career was so long, there are so many components required to have a successful team and really any part you play in that role, you can't discount anything, whether it's the equipment guy, the film guy, the head coach and obviously, the players. I enjoy it all, so I'm just glad to be here."

*3. What can you tell us about your Elvis performance at the beginning of camp? Coach Kubiak seemed to get quite a kick out of it. *

"Yeah, I've had three rookie shows I've had to perform at: college, as a rookie with the Oilers, and then as a rookie coach, and I've done Elvis at them all. I have my costume that I had made in 1990. It was a little bit better fitting back then, so it was vintage Elvis because my button from my waist popped."

*4. How does it feel to now be a coach in a city that you played in for so many years with the Houston Oilers? *

"I like it. When I retired, it was the first year the Texans came into being, so it was a new, novelty type thing, but I guess my allegiance was still to the Titans. But over the course of the years that I've been retired, I've really become a big fan of the team, especially when Gary (Kubiak) took over as coach. It was really something that I was excited to get involved with."

*5. What did you think about the Titans wearing the Oilers' uniforms in the Hall of Fame Game? *

"I really enjoyed watching it. It's so natural for me to see that, and it seems like such a right thing. But the Oilers are part of Houston and in my opinion – and I know there are a lot of factors involved, obviously – but my opinion is that they need to be in Houston. Maybe Mr. (Bud) Adams and Mr. (Bob) McNair can work something out."

{QUOTE}*6. Given your Hall of Fame credentials, have the players been looking to you for advice throughout camp? *

"I try and interject with the offensive linemen when I see fit. It's been pretty cool getting to know them and starting to build a little bit of a trust. It's something that I think will grow over the course of the season, hopefully – as long as I don't steer them in the wrong direction. I really enjoy it. The most enjoyment I get from coaching is the interaction with the players, and that was the case when I coached my little kids and when I coached at high school. I played until I was 40, and there are very few professions where you get to be a kid – I got to be a kid 'til I was 40. For the most part, most of these guys are just like that as well, just big kids."

*7. What do you think of rookie Antoine Caldwell's progress so far, and how have you tried to help him develop? *

"Obviously, he has a lot of talent and had a lot of success in college. Really, I think other than quarterback, adjustment for an offensive linemen in the NFL is just such a huge step up, not only the physical part of the game because you're playing against bigger, faster, stronger guys, but the mental part of the game and just having to learn to compete every play. It can really drag you down, especially when you're a young guy. It's a long season, it's hard, it's unlike anything he's ever experienced, but he's improving. He does some things really well and you see, without a doubt, the kid has a bright future."

**8. Have you noticed any major differences in the league and in the game since your playing days?


"The big thing is the coaches are so aware of injury and realizing that it truly is a marathon and you can't go out there and just pound on each other. You have to hit, without a doubt, because it's a skill that you can only really get good at by doing, but at the same time, you have to protect your teammates. Guys are so big and strong and fast now that the collisions are that much more. So you can limit it. You try and coach as much as you can without all the violent collisions, yet at the same time, it's a balancing act because you need to be physical, you need to hit, but you've got to last the season. I think there's a lot more thought and planning that goes into that, especially nowadays than when I played."

*9. What are your predictions for this season? Do you think the playoffs are possible? *

"Absolutely. I'm so excited, just thrilled, to be part of the whole thing. I think we've upgraded the team in a lot ways through the draft and free agency, and guys have that much more experience under their belts. They did some great things last year, but that 0-4 start really sealed the deal. The idea is to get out fast and to do what they've always done in the second half of the year. That's the cool thing about it. It reminds me of some Oiler teams I played on where it was a bunch of good players but they didn't quite understand how good they could be and once they figure it out, then there's no stopping them. It's a very exciting time to be a Houston Texan."

*10. Since you played for the Oilers/Titans, are you especially looking forward to the Texans' two games against them this season? *

"It's funny, because I think Keith Bullock and Craig Hentrich, the punter, they are the only ones I think who are still on the Titans, I haven't checked their roster lately. So, in that regard, a lot of the ties that I had to them are gone. Even the coaching staff, Mike Munchak, probably my best friend, he still coaches there. I played college football with Jeff Fisher, the head coach. So, there's definitely some unique ties. But absolutely, I want to be their friend, hope they do well especially after we hopefully beat them twice. But the thing is, they are the team that we are aspiring to be like because they are where we want to be, so it's a great measuring stick."

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