Wentz Laments the Loss of Jordan Matthews
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - Carson Wentz was particularly close with Jordan Matthews and the second-year Eagles' quarterback had a difficult time with the business decision that sent the veteran receiver, along with a third-round pick, to the Buffalo Bills for cornerback Ronald Darby.
“On the personal side, it’s tough,” Wentz admitted on the field after practice on Saturday. “This is my first time experiencing this with someone that is one of my best friends. Seeing him yesterday, it was tough on him too. It was kind of out of the blue.”
Matthews is very popular in the entire Eagles' locker room and the veteran was described as a very good player but " a better person than a player" by executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman.
“Everyone loved him," Wentz added. "He was the ultimate competitor out here, always was about the team first. Replacing a guy like that in the locker room is definitely not going to be easy.”
Wentz and Zach Ertz were actually with Matthews on Friday before the trade and the QB was the one who drove one of his favorite targets to the airport on his way out of town.
“A couple of us spent time with him yesterday, I actually took him to the airport and everything last night," Wentz said. "So got to see him a little bit before he left and wish him well. We’ll still be in touch without a doubt, obviously we’re so close off the field. That’s not going to go anywhere just because he’s in Buffalo now.”
The Eagles traded from a perceived position of strength to upgrade a deficiency with the 23-year-old Darby, who observed practice Saturday but did not participate.
“Obviously Jordan’s been extremely productive the last couple of years, so missing that piece in the slot, it’s not going to be easy to replace,” Wentz said. “But I’m confident we have a number of guys who can hopefully step up and do that job.”
It won't be a one-man effort, however, as coach Doug Pederson envisions a more varied setup which will see receivers like Nelson Agholor and perhaps Bryce Treggs or Mack Hollins, as well as Ertz and even running backs like Darren Sproles and Donnel Pumphrey being used in the slot at times.
"We move so many guys in and out of that position that it's just kind of by design of the offense, by the scheme of the offense," Pederson said. "With the versatility of some of our running backs that we have with [Darren] Sproles and [Donnel] Pumphrey, they can utilize that position and create some matchups against the defense. The versatility of the position and then the flexibility that we have as personnel to put guys in that spot is a benefit to us offensively."
And Wentz is counting on that benefit helping him move past losing one of his best friends from the locker room.
“You have trust what they think is the best for the team,” Wentz said. “I spoke with Howie [Roseman] shortly before the news. He told me it was already done. Obviously, he knew how I felt with Jordan being one of my best friends. ...It’s just part of this.”
DAY 15 NOVACARE NOTES:
-In need of a body at WR after the Matthews trade the Eagles signed rookie wide receiver Keevan Lucas and waived middle linebacker Steven Daniels.
Lucas, 5-foot-10, 193, played his college football at the University of Tulsa where he caught the football from Philadelphia fourth-string QB Dane Evans.
He went undrafted due to some medical red flags but was very productive as a sophomore and senior at Tulsa, hauling in 101 passes for 1,219 yards and 11 touchdowns as a soph and 81 for 1,180 yards and 15 TDs during his final season at the college level. His junior campaign was slowed by a knee injury.
-Nick Foles remained out of practice with his sore elbow but was scheduled to throw in the afternoon.
-Others missing practice included swing tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai (knee), cornerback Ron Brooks (hamstring), receiver Paul Turner (shoulder), running back Wendell Smallwood (hamstring), tight end Anthony Denham, receiver Bryce Treggs (leg soreness) and guard Josh Andrews (hand).
-Both guard Chance Warmack and tight end Trey Burton left practice early although each walked off under their own power to the locker room.
-With Brooks out and Darby unable to practice yet, safety Malcolm Jenkins slid down to the first-team nickel with Corey Graham replacing Jenkins on the back end next to Rodney McLeod.
-This was the third and final practice of training camp that featured live sessions and it was also the longest practice of camp, going 2 1/2 hours.
-Darby will be wearing No. 35 while there was some other number movement. LeGarrette Blount got No. 29 from safety Terrence Brooks, who moved to No. 24, a clear indication that the Ryan Mathews situation will finally be addressed soon.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen