*As he begins his second year with the Redskins, the defensive lineman is looking forward to competing with a new set of defensive linemen and enhancing his role on the team. *
Head coach Jay Gruden only mentioned defensive lineman Matt Ioannidis briefly during his roundtable interview with reporters at the NFL Annual Meetings in Phoenix, Ariz,, this week.
"He's going to get stronger," Gruden said of the Temple product, who is embarking on his second season in the league.
Ioannidis affirmed in an interview with Redskins.com on Thursday that yes, enhanced strength is one of several goals of his as he begins looking ahead to the team's offseason program.
"I would say my goal probably has more than just strength in it, but yeah, that's definitely a goal," he said. "I think I have to get smarter, I think I have to learn the game at this level better, I think there's a lot that goes into it, it's kind of as a whole still adjusting to game speed, game strength and scheme."
Ioannidis has lost just a few pounds this offseason, converting more fat into muscle as he looks to define himself along a defensive line that will have some competition for an open nose tackle position. The team never had a true option there last season after Terrance Knighton left, but hopes to find a consistent player there in new defensive coordinator Greg Manusky's 3-4 system.
Gruden, for his part, doesn't seem concerned with the team's current options – including newcomers Stacy McGee and Terrell McClain – with the addition of defensive line coach Jim Tomsula to get them into shape.
"Coach [Jim] Tomsula has assured me that he will find a nose guard, [and] he'll make a nose guard," Gruden said. "If you look at his track record, [and] you look at the nose guards [that] he's had, none of them have been priority first-round draft choices. He's made nose guards. He coaches that position extremely well, and I have faith that he'll do that."
Ioannidis has spoken with Tomsula just over the phone and is excited to learn from him in the weeks ahead.
"Obviously I would love to be the guy, to be that nose tackle that gets defined within the defensive line," Ioannidis said. "But ultimately I'll play anywhere. Anywhere they decide to play me is where I'll be."
Ioannidis returned to the Ashburn, Va., earlier this week after spending most of the offseason at home in New Jersey and at Temple University, working out with the football team there and its new strength coach, the first time he's experienced a true break since he was 14.
"Coach Manusky, coming off the season, kind of gave some advice as to what to do," Ioannidis said of his offseason plan. "But I feel as if I managed it well. I didn't take advantage of the free time in a bad way where I just sat around, but I also spent some good time with my family that I hadn't been able to in the past."
In his rookie season, Ioannidis combined for eight tackles on 102 defensive snaps, and is looking to enhance those numbers and his role as he settles into his second year in the NFL.
"I'm still in the process of setting goals and evaluating myself," Ioannidis said. "But I take the approach of day by day, and control the controllables."