FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Jordan Matthews gets another chance Friday night.
A week after a disappointing NFL debut in Chicago — two drops, a third pass he could have caught, an average of just 3½ yards on four receptions — Matthews will play in his second NFL game Friday, when the Eagles face the Patriots at Gillette Stadium.
Riley Cooper, still nursing a sore foot, didn’t play against the Bears and won’t play against the Patriots, but he’s seen enough of Matthews in practice this summer that he has no doubts the rookie second-round pick will be fine.
“He’s a great player,” Cooper said. “He’s got some of the best hands I’ve ever seen. You’ve been at practice. He doesn’t drop balls. That’s not his thing. He’ll be fine. I’m really looking forward to seeing what he does this week. He’s had a great week of preparation and practice.”
What happened last week?
Chalk it up to a young rookie making his NFL debut. It happens.
“I don’t know what it was,” Cooper, one of the NFL’s leading receivers over the last 11 weeks last year, said. “He was in the right spots. I think his quote was just [lacking] concentration and I think that’s what it was.
“You’re a rookie, you’re playing in your first NFL game, you’re excited and you're trying to do too much, you’re trying to make things happen where you need to just calm down and play your game.”
And that’s Matthews’ goal for Friday night.
With Cooper and Jeremy Maclin (hamstring) not playing against the Patriots, Matthews will again get a lot of playing time, including perhaps some outside.
Matthews said his job Friday night is to just focus on what his responsibility is each snap instead of trying to worry about everything going on around him.
“Not worrying about trying to do everything,” he said. “A lot of times guys get in trouble because they want to go out there and try to worry about, ‘OK, what’s the quarterback doing, what’s the receiver on the outside doing, who’s getting the ball this play, who’s doing this, who’s doing that,’ and when you start focusing on those things, that’s when you get out of the framework of the game.
“So [what’s important is] just doing my job. If I’ve got to get the 10 yards, that’s what I want to do. I’m working on those things. Just focusing on the little things that I have to do and at the end of day just catching the ball and making plays for the team.”
Friday night’s game will also be a great opportunity for Arrelious Benn, who missed all of last year and has essentially been hurt for most of the last two years.
But Benn, the only veteran in the Eagles’ second group of wideouts, has stayed healthy this preseason and is quietly giving himself a chance at a roster spot.
Asked if he’s looking at this game as a great opportunity, since Maclin and Cooper are hurt and he’ll likely start, Benn smiled and quickly shook his head no.
“I don’t look at it like that,” he said. “I never look at stuff like that. I just go out there and play my game.
“I don’t look at numbers, I don’t look at who’s in front of me, I don’t look at, ‘They’re treating this guy differently.’ I don’t look at any of that. I don’t care about any of that. I just go out there and make plays and that’s it.
“I leave it there, be a team guy and go home. Show up the next day and do the same thing. Quiet humble guy. Come in and do what I gotta do. Help the younger guys. Just fly around and have fun.”