A large continent of reporters awaited Jordan Matthews on the sideline as the Eagles wide receiver worked on the JUGS machine after Philadelphia’s Thursday training camp practice.
Matthews hadn’t really talked extensively since the first day of OTA practices back in May. He missed all of the remaining spring practices following that date.
It was also expected that Matthews might be limited during training camp. Doug Pederson suggested as much in an interview on the eve before camp began this week.
Matthews didn’t seem limited during Philadelphia’s first full team training camp practice, though. The 25-year-old took a fair amount of reps and even made a contested catch where we went to the ground and got back up with no signs of pain. After practice, Pederson confirmed Matthews was “full go.”
Earlier this week, rumors surfaced regarding Matthews’ mysterious injury situation.
There is talk around the locker room that Matthews’ issue is more serious than tendinitis. But there is talk elsewhere in the building that Matthews could have practiced more in the spring, that the real issue is his contract.
Matthews addressed both his injury and his contract situation following practice on Thursday.
Kind of. He refused to confirm his exact medical ailment despite the fact the Eagles’ PR team has officially said Matthews’ injury is related to knee tendinitis.
Here was Matthews’ response after being asked if that was the issue with him.
“Well, I would say the biggest thing about that whole deal is when we talk to Coach Pederson, at first Coach Pederson told you guys what he knew. And he has so much stuff to worry about, you know what I’m saying? When it comes to football, when it comes to plays, when it comes to everybody. So once he turned me over to the medical staff, they’ve been the ones who’ve been monitoring me and helping me go.”
“I hate putting a specific word on [the injury], because then people will say ‘Oh, well I played with that before.’ Trust me, if I could be out here, and play, I would be out here playing, I would be out here practicing. So that should never be a question about me. When it comes to this game, I’m always going to come out here and go to work. I don’t like to put a word on it, but it’s definitely something I have to monitor, something I have to work to get better at. But they’ve been patient with me, Coach Pederson has been awesome with me, I couldn’t be more thankful for the guys in this locker room and the coaching staff who have definitely helped me throughout this process.”
Matthews was also directly asked if his absence during the spring was related to the fact he’s a free agent after this season. The rumor from earlier this week suggested he may not have wanted to practice due to the fact he lacks contract stability. Matthews totally shot down that notion.
“That, that’s not ... I would never, like, I would literally never do that. Like, if you guys know me, you know anything from the time that I’ve been here, I go to work. This is a privilege to be able to play football regardless, whether it’s the Philadelphia Eagles or it’s anything. To play in the NFL, I’ve always wanted to do this. So any day I can come out here and play, I’m going to do that. I believe that when you go to work, you’ll end up seeing the fruits of your labor get paid off. I would never sit out to try and force somebody’s hand. That’s just not me. I’m going to come out here and go to work. I wasn’t able to [during the spring], that was the breaks, but I’m out here now, ready to go.”
Matthews was also asked about how the lack of long-term contract security could impact his play on the field.
“Like I said, man, I hope you guys know me by now. That’s not what really motivates me. That’s not what drives me. I grew up, my parents were affluent. I never needed anything. So when I played football, I played football for respect. That’s all I played for. It’s been ‘OK, I’ve got to get to the league to get money, to get my mom a house.’ I respect anybody who has to do that, but I never had to do that, so I never really played for money. So I want to cross the middle because I wanted to make sure the guy across from me respected me. So that’s not going to change. If anything, it just grows the more older I get, and the better competition I see. I’m not even thinking about [the contract] in the least. My biggest focus is coming out here and winning football games.”
Matthews may be a flawed receiver, but there’s no question he does work really hard. It’s difficult to imagine he would actively want to miss practice given the way he seems to love to practice when you watch him participate in it.
As for the “I don’t play football for money, I play for respect” thing ... that’s admirable to say, but ultimately money is going to be a significant deciding factor in what happens with Matthews after this year.
For now, though, JMatt appears to be healthy and ready to go for the 2017 season. That’s good news for the Eagles and Carson Wentz.
Check out Jordan Matthew’s post-practice press conference (click here or watch below).
Jordan Matthews speaking nowPosted by Bleeding Green Nation: For Philadelphia Eagles Fans on Thursday, July 27, 2017