Humbled Matthews is Happy With Second Chance
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - Jordan Matthews has only been away from Philadelphia for just over a year and his good friend Carson Wentz spent the majority of that time rehabbing his surgically repaired left knee.
They will both return to Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts, Wentz in his familiar role as face of the franchise and Matthews in the unfamiliar one as desperation help for a banged-up receiving corps.
Both are looking forward to the reunion.
"Obviously, with Jordan, I feel good with him," Wentz said on Wednesday before practice. "He was gone only one season. He’s picking up on things pretty quickly. We’ll see how it goes as the week progresses how he looks and how he fits in. I feel comfortable with him and everybody else."
Matthews, now wearing No. 80 instead of his more familiar No. 81, spent his first three professional seasons in Philadelphia, averaging 75 receptions a year, before being dealt to Buffalo, along with a third-round pick, for cornerback Ronald Darby.
Since then the injury bug plagued Matthews, who spent just one subpar season with the Bills, before signing with New England in the offseason until a hamstring injury derailed any hopes of a productive stay with the Pats.
He was brought back by the Eagles after a fractured fibula against Tampa Bay resulted in surgery for Mike Wallace, just the latest receiver to join a MASH list that also includes the rehabbing Alshon Jeffery and Mack Hollins.
"We are excited to get him back," Eagles coach Doug Pederson said. "It's part of where we are with the receivers, the injuries and things of that nature but we'll work him this week and see where his role will be and try to get him in the mix."
"You don't really possibly think it could happen," Matthews added. "Obviously, the circumstances that helped it to happen aren't great circumstances. We all feel for Mike; I think everybody's rooting for Alshon to get healthy and be able to come back."
The Eagles will be asking Matthews to contribute against the Colts after just three practices and a walkthrough and his prior knowledge of the offense will help.
"I've been working out every single day," Matthews said after his first practice back. "I didn't feel really gassed or anything, but getting used to pads and coming in and out of breaks comes with repetitions. It's fun to do it with an offense I’m familiar with and guys I really have a good relationship with."
A good relationship is underplaying things with Wentz as Matthews was a groomsman in the QB's wedding over the summer.
"I don't know [what's going to happen], but with Carson anything's possible," Matthews said.
Now 26 Matthews is also married with a child and joked about his star-crossed time in Buffalo, where he played in just 10 games due to injury, while snaring 25 balls for 282 yards.
"Ain't nothing to do in Buffalo except each other," the personable Matthews joked. "We always say we got a Buffalo baby.”
Matthews also got poignant about how a potential big-money second contract in the NFL quickly morphed into a street free agent trying to get his foot back in the door, partially due to a misdiagnosis of a knee injury when he was in Philly.
"I have a great wife," Matthews said. "She's been keeping me encouraged. We had our first child, he's, like, 3 weeks old now. That also gave me a ton of perspective. There's people that go through way worse than [being] a free-agent football player."
Because of his wife and child Matthews doesn't regret leaving the Eagles but he's also very happy to have the opportunity to come back.
"It’s always fun to get back and actually play some football," said Matthews. "... I think I've definitely kind of been humbled as a result of this experience. I didn't really understand the mindset of a guy like [Chris] Maragos, that's undrafted, the grind to get to where he's at
"... I can be that guy one day."
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen