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As He Adds Size, Matt Ioannidis Focusing On Technique As Rookie

Posted May 18, 2016

Looking to add 15 to 20 pounds to his 299-pound frame, Redskins rookie defensive end Matt Ioannidis is honing in on his technique early into his NFL career.

Looking to add 15 to 20 pounds to his 299-pound frame, Redskins rookie defensive end Matt Ioannidis is honing in on his technique early into his NFL career.

Defensive end Matt Ioannidis may not be the “prettiest athlete” on the Washington Redskins, but that is quite alright with general manager Scot McCloughan.

More importantly, the Redskins’ fifth-round selection fits McCloughan’s football player mold. He’s a “tough son of a gun” that has already earned the respect of the general manager.

Joe Barry’s defensive line is by no means a stagnant group. There are plenty of talented players that rotate in the trenches throughout the game. While some players, such as Kedric Golston and Chris Baker have more clear roles, Ioannidis falls into a category where the coaches feel he can play just about anywhere.

“He could just be ‘DL,’” Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said on Saturday when asked about his position. “Because those guys are very interchangeable. He’s strong and I think eventually he could put on some weight and be a good nose guard.”

Upon his selection, Gruden noted that tacking 15 to 20 pounds onto his 6-foot-3, 299-pound frame would further help his case as a mainstay in the middle of the defensive line.

But along with bulking up, dropping down - as in lowering his pad level - is something that the former Temple Owl captain has been focusing on.

“The lower you are, the more advantage you have,” Ioannidis said this past weekend at the team’s rookie minicamp. “When you’re low, you can bring your hips through with you and you're just more explosive.”

And while he was critical of his pad level in college, the stats certainly show he has the power and ability to wreak havoc in the middle of the defense.

With 39 tackles and two fumble recoveries, Ioannidis was the clear leader of the Owls’ defense in a year that saw them surge onto the college football scene. Thanks in large part to his leadership, the Owls reached their first-ever 7-0 start and were ranked in the Top 25 for the first time since 1979.

His teammates called him “The Professor” for his ability to learn Temple’s defense, but you could also apply that to his meticulous attention to detail.

“You try to go a million miles per hour and you’re never going to get the technique down,” Ioannidis said. “Fast can be kind of reckless sometimes, but smooth can look fast so the key is to be patient and do everything the right way, even if it’s a slower pace.”

“I would say I am my own toughest critic,” he added. “I like to think I know my own flaws and my own strengths. And I’m just going to try and make my weaknesses my strengths.”

In particular, he’s trying to improve his initial burst off the ball. If he wants a prolonged career in the NFL anchoring a defensive unit, then penetrating the opponent’s backfield is one area he hopes to improve on.

Over the three-day rookie minicamp, there’s only so much that a coach can glean from the crop of talent he has before him. They have to take into account that the player is fresh out of college and is still learning the ins and outs of the NFL, along with the many nuances that come with an entirely new playbook.

Still, Gruden is continually thinking about where the best fit might be for Ioannidis.

“Like a lot of these guys, we’re kind of getting to know them as they are getting to know the system,” he said. “We’ll try to find out the best place for him based on where we need him and where his best success rate will be.”

If you ask Ioannidis, he’ll tell you the best fit for him is simply being on the field.

“I just want to play ball,” he said. “At the end of the day I just want to play ball. I don’t where it is on the field, I just want to play ball.”

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