Ex-Cats

A season after Super Bowl breakout, ex-Cat Chris Matthews sees opportunity with Ravens

Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Chris Matthews during the first half of Super Bowl XLIX on Sunday, Feb. 1, 2015, in Glendale, Ariz.
Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Chris Matthews during the first half of Super Bowl XLIX on Sunday, Feb. 1, 2015, in Glendale, Ariz. Associated Press

Before Seattle Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll’s infamous pass call at the goal line late in last year’s Super Bowl, the biggest story coming out of the game was the explosive performance of Seahawks wide receiver Chris Matthews.

The former University of Kentucky standout was a seldom-used receiver who caught four passes for 109 yards and a touchdown in his first real game action during that Super Bowl. Amid all the disappointment that came with the Seahawks’ loss to the New England Patriots, the promise of their 6-foot-5 success story carried into 2015.

But a preseason shoulder injury — along with Seattle's receiver depth chart being more crowded than ever — made Matthews expendable. After nine games with just four catches for 54 yards, he was waived early last week. After taking some time to mull over a big pile of offers, he landed on the Ravens practice squad Monday.

“It was a bit hard for me,” Matthews said. “I don’t want to take anything away from or downgrade Seattle or anything like that. They definitely gave me opportunities and I was making the most of it. Unfortunately, I got hurt, they drafted a receiver and he excelled from there. He took it to another height, so I was basically fighting an uphill battle. I didn’t see any outcome coming out of it. They made the decision to let me go and I respect them for at least giving me an opportunity. Now, I’m with the Ravens.”

It’s not the first setback in Matthews' career, having been released out of training camp as an undrafted rookie with the Cleveland Browns in 2011 and not playing football that year before playing in the Canadian Football League for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in 2012 and 2013. He worked as a security guard before the Seahawks gave him a tryout.

He spent most of 2014 on Seattle’s practice squad before being elevated to the active roster in December, and was used as a secret weapon of sorts to take advantage of a size mismatch with then-Patriots cornerback Kyle Arrington in the Super Bowl. Arrington, now with the Ravens, has a locker no more than 10 feet from Matthews’ in Owings Mills.

The process of picking a team was “kind of overwhelming,” Matthews said. There was plenty of interest in such a big target, but he studied rosters and coaching staffs and “felt like it would be a good opportunity to be here.”

He cited his shared CFL roots with offensive coordinator Marc Trestman, plus the injuries the Ravens have at wide receiver. The Ravens are without receivers Steve Smith Sr. (Achilles), Michael Campanaro (back) and rookies Breshad Perriman (knee) and Darren Waller (hamstring).

“I felt like that was another thing that would help me get on the field and show what I can do and help the team out,” Matthews said. “I’ve always liked the Ravens. They’ve always been a good team and a contender. I didn’t want to go from one wining team to a team that never makes it to the playoffs. I wanted to end up on another winning team.”

That’s not the Ravens this year, but Matthews feels the franchise is always a contender, and one that can help him reach the incredible heights at which he debuted last February.

When Ravens Coach John Harbaugh announced the move, he said Matthews didn’t plan on being on the practice squad for long. Matthews seconded that.

“I’m going to push,” he said. “I’m going to push as hard as I can. Hopefully what I did today shows that I’m here and I’m ready for the challenge. Whatever they throw at me, it doesn’t matter if it’s hard or not. I’m fighting for it.”

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