Falcons Vice President of Football Communications Reggie Roberts spotlights a player each week in a series of on-the-spot, off-beat questions in a weekly segment featured on AtlantaFalcons.com called "Behind the Facemask."
This week's featured player is Falcons Pro Bowl quarterback Matt Ryan.
Ryan, the number three overall pick of the 2008 NFL Draft, had a breakout year in 2010 en route to leading the Falcons to an NFC-best 13-3 record and an NFC South Division title. In 16 starts last season, Ryan set franchise records with 357 completions on 571 attempts for 3,705 yards, 28 TD strikes with a career-low nine interceptions for a QB rating of 91.0.
The former Boston College signal caller, who is 20-2 as a starter in the Georgia Dome, will lead the Falcons on Sunday night in an NFC clash against the Philadelphia Eagles. Kickoff is set for 8:20 p.m.
We caught up with Ryan, a Philadelphia native, to discuss game day rituals, what it's really like inside an NFL huddle, his favorite vacation spot, and his relationship with Falcons Pro Bowl receiver Roddy White.
Reggie Roberts: What's your week been like?
Matt Ryan: It's been really good. I've tried to make it as normal as possible. I thought our guys did a really good job on the practice field and in the meeting rooms. I think we had really good work on the practice field, so we're ready to go.
RR: What's the best part of Friday afternoon for you?
MR: The best part of my Friday is the one hour I spend on the massage table getting a deep tissue, full body massage. We (NFL players) have to take care of our bodies, so that's what I do. Sara Wolfgang (Matt's massage therapist) does a great job. She's a body mechanic and does a great job of getting me ready to go on Sunday.
RR: I recently received a tweet from a Falcons fan who asked me to ask you what really goes on inside an NFL huddle?
MR: First off, it's a lot quieter than you might think. I've got 20 sets of eye balls intently staring at me trying to pick and digest their portion of the play call. You might think that guys are talking, but we are on such a tight NFL play clock that we've got to get in and out of the huddle in case we decide to audible or make certain checks at the line of scrimmage.
RR: Have you ever had to tell anyone to shut up in the huddle?
MR: Yes, that's happened. We are in crucial situations out there on the field and my job is to make sure everyone knows what their assignment is. Our guys know that they can talk when I'm outside of the huddle getting the play call, but as soon as I step inside the huddle, all of the discussion stops and we're down to business.
RR: Do you have any specific game day rituals like eating the same meal every week?
MR: Not really. From a food standpoint, I try to mix it up. I normally ride over to the stadium by myself to get that last 25 or 30 minutes where I can gather my thoughts and get mentally prepared for the game. I'll get the stadium and relax for a bit before I change, get stretched out, and start getting loose. Two hours before the game, I start throwing with Red (Falcons backup QB Chris Redman) and I'll also start throwing to Harry Douglas and Julio Jones.
RR: I understand you got married during the offseason.
MR: Yeah, Sarah and I got married on April 1st.
RR: Do you guys have a favorite vacation spot?
MR: Yeah, the place we got married at. Sea Island, Georgia. It's an amazing place.
RR: Last item before we let you run. Tell us about your relationship with Falcons Pro Bowl wide receiver Roddy White.
MR: Roddy is a great guy. He's one of the most competitive guys I've ever met, and he's a great player. He wants to be great, and he works his tail off on the little things. He's a great player, a great person, and an excellent teammate.