This is an article from the Aug. 8, 2011 issue
The 2010 Pro Bowler (page 28) led teammates in drills at an Atlanta-area high school during the lockout and got married in April.
Dan Patrick:How did the lockout affect your life?
Matt Ryan: It freed up some of my time, that's for sure. But it really just changed where we did our preparation. A lot of guys live in Atlanta, so we could get together and work out a little bit.
DP:Did you have any contact with coaches to help prepare this off-season?
MR: We had no communication. Both sides stuck to the rules. We were lucky, we haven't had any turnover in our coordinators the last three years. We knew our system.
DP:Have you spent time with rookie receiver Julio Jones?
MR: I have. Julio was in Atlanta for about eight weeks after the draft [learning] our playbook.
DP:What's he do well?
MR: A lot of things. He's bigger and stronger and faster than I thought he would be.
DP:Is Jones what the Falcons needed to improve?
MR: I think so. I think [Jones], along with Roddy White, Tony Gonzalez, Harry Douglas in the slot and Mike Turner in the backfield... . It's going to make it difficult for teams to defend us.
DP:How worried are you about the Falcons' defense after falling to the Packers 48--21 in last season's playoffs?
MR: That night didn't turn out the way we wanted it to on either side of the ball.
DP:How good were the Packers?
MR: I don't think anybody was going to beat them. Aaron Rodgers played, quite honestly, one of the best playoff games I've ever seen a quarterback play.
DP:What can we expect from rookie quarterbacks after missing so much of the off-season?
MR: It's hard enough to do it when you have a normal off-season. I think this adds an extra level of difficulty. For me, it would have been extremely difficult to come in without having the OTAs and the minicamps.
DP:Are there ever times you forget the play when you get to the line of scrimmage?
MR: Not me. Not anymore, I should say. Any rookie who would tell you they weren't unsure at one point or another when they walked to the line of scrimmage is lying to you.
DP:What do you do when that happens?
MR: You look at one of the veterans and say, "Hey, man, what's goin' on here?"
DP:What do you think of recent proposals to pay college football players?
MR: With the amount of money football programs bring into institutions, I'm not opposed to it. I don't think paying players is going to solve the problem of players' taking extra benefits. Anybody at [that age] with an opportunity to make extra money is going to be tempted. But it needs to be discussed and probably eventually will happen.
DP:How much money would have been enough at Boston College?
MR: It's an expensive city. I would need extra money. Compared to some places in the Midwest, your money doesn't go as far [in Boston].
DP:So you might have gone to a school in the Midwest instead?
MR: Once you finally turn 21, the cost of a Bud Light in Iowa City is a little bit less than the cost of a Bud Light in Boston. It definitely could change where people go.
• Giant Worry
San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy told me he loves having characters on his team, but having those characters visit the White House made him a little bit nervous. "I really was concerned what Brian [Wilson, above] was going to wear," Bochy explained. "I said, 'Put the spandex away for this event.' We had the players wear coats and ties. Brian did a nice job." Bochy, however, added that he's never been around a player who works harder than Wilson.
• Sharpe Insight
Newly inducted Hall of Famer Shannon Sharpe offered an interesting take into the Broncos' expectations for Tim Tebow. "Once you've won a Super Bowl as an organization, nothing less than winning and hoisting that Lombardi Trophy matters anymore," Sharpe told me. "[Head coach] John Fox believes this guy can win in the playoffs." That's how a team should think, but that puts a lot of pressure on a second-year quarterback who has started just three games.
• Line of the week
Steve Carell on his ultimate sports-related tattoo: "I would get BRETT FAVRE put on my shoulder. You couldn't remove it. Even when you thought it was removed, it would keep coming back."
Now Hear This
Listen to the podcasts at danpatrick.com
1. Torii Hunter talks about the Angels' chances in the AL West.
2. Marshall Faulk breaks down a wild week in the NFL.
THE FINE PRINT: The Patriots acquired defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth ... and switched their conditioning test to true/false.