Jordan Matthews suffered two significant injuries in 2016 that still seem to be bothering him to this day. The Eagles wide receiver has missed a few weeks of Philadelphia’s OTA schedule now (at least seven practices in total) after participating in the team’s first practice on May 23.
So ... what’s going on with this situation? Let’s start from the beginning.
Matthews took a big hit to his knee during a training camp practice last August. Jalen Mills came flying in low to make a tackle on Matthews on a screen play. It looked pretty bad at the time because it took Matthews considerable time to get up after laying on the ground in pain.
After that injury, Matthews did not play any preseason football last year. He was fully ready when the regular season rolled around. Then at one point the Eagles announced he had knee tendinitis. Again, Matthews didn’t miss any playing time due to this knee issue, but he was listed with it on the injury report.
In Week 12, Matthews suffered a sprained ankle. The injury noticeably limited his effectiveness and caused him to miss two games late last season.
It’s these two injuries that still seem to be bothering Matthews in 2017.
The situation is at least a little curious. Matthews didn’t look hampered at all to me when I watched him on practice on Tuesday, May 23. After practice, however, he told reporters his ankle was still bothering him. He didn’t seem to mention his knee at all.
And that’s interesting to me because the Eagles have been listing him with “knee tendinitis” and not his ankle issue. Maybe that doesn’t mean anything, but the fact that Matthews has been missing several practices while the Eagles are taking a “conservative approach” (the team’s words) also sticks out. Yes, the Eagles have no reason to make him practice if he’s not 100%. But how much time does he really need to miss if this is a “precautionary” situation?
Doug Pederson downplayed any concerns with Matthews during his pre-practice press conference on Thursday.
Physically he's fine. Again, we're taking this as a one-day-at-a-time approach. We've still got a long way before we play games. He's doing everything in his power, and working with [Eagles director of sports medicine/head athletic trainer Chris] Peduzzi and our docs to get ready. He'll be fine heading into training camp.
If this was the regular season, Jordan would be fine. He'd be able to go. It's just we're not playing games [right now]. I understand what Jordan can do and his impact to the team and his relationship with Carson [Wentz]. I get all that. But listen, I want our guys healthy for July and August, and obviously, September. So I'm not concerned with Jordan and where he's at. Just can't wait to get him back out there.
Matthews also told reporters he’s fine.
Jordan Matthews [...] said there's no reason for fans to be concerned about his health. "Not at all," he said. "I'm not concerned."
Pederson didn’t rule out the possibility of Matthews returning to practice for the Eagles’ minicamp next week from June-13-15.
There is a chance. We've got to see where he's at. Again, he's day-to-day with that. Just understand that I don't want to push anybody or rush anybody back out there
Perhaps the Eagles’ messaging about Matthews should be taken at face value. It’s very possible the team is choosing to rest him so he’s ready in time to fully practice when training camp begins in late July.
It’s also easy to wonder if the Eagles’ approach has anything to do with the trade rumors Matthews has been involved in. And that wouldn’t conflict with anything they’ve said. But the reasoning behind the Eagles’ extra cautious approach with Matthews could be at least some what motivated by the fact he needs to be healthy in order to deal him.
Matthews downplayed the trade rumors when asked about them in late May. Of course, the decision isn’t up to him. There’s a very real chance the Eagles might not keep Matthews around beyond is year. He’s set to be a free agent after this season and he could desire more money than the Eagles are willing to pay. If that’s the case, Philadelphia should at least consider getting value for him now while they can.
Matthews isn’t the only player this (conspiracy) theory applies to, either. Mychal Kendricks has also been missing practice lately. That’s not really anything new for Kendricks, so it could be unrelated to the trade rumors he’s been mentioned in.
One thing’s for certain: Howie Roseman makes way more trades than any other general manager in the league. You can never completely rule things out with him in charge.