A debut to forget for Jordan Matthews

A debut to forget for Jordan Matthews
August 9, 2014, 9:45 am
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Jordan Matthews had four catches for 14 yards in his first taste of game action Friday. (USA Today Images)

CHICAGO -- Jordan Matthews didn’t hesitate. Not for a second.
 
“Are those balls you feel like you should catch?”
 
“All the time,” Matthews said. “Definitely.”
 
In his preseason debut Friday night, the rookie had two drops and failed to come up with a third pass that was a tough play but one he should make.
 
He finished with four catches for just 14 yards in the Eagles’ preseason opener, a 34-28 loss to the Bears at Soldier Field.
 
The ballyhooed second-round pick out of Vanderbilt, the SEC’s all-time leading receiver, had a long gainer of just five yards, which he did twice. He also had catches for four yards and no yards.
 
That’s 3.5 yards per reception. That’s even lower than rookie tailback David Fluellen’s rushing average Friday night.
 
“It’s just concentration, I’ve got to just bring in those balls,” Matthews said. “Nothing more, nothing less. Just got to make those catches. That’s it.”
 
Matthews didn’t get into the game while the first offense was still out there. Veteran Brad Smith got the slot reps with Nick Foles and the first offense, which played the first quarter and failed to generate a point.
 
His first catch came from Mark Sanchez, the next three from Matt Barkley.
 
At his locker, Matthews insisted he wasn’t disappointed in his debut but acknowledged he has a long way to go.
 
“Just knowing you still have a lot of stuff to work on,” he said. “That’s really my mindset going back into training next week.
 
“Really, it just makes me hungry to get back to practice. Our main focus is seeing where I made mistakes in the film room, learning from them and then going out and practicing. That’s the main thing I’m focused on.”
 
Matthews’ numbers are short of the numbers put up by the last five wide receivers the Eagles drafted in the first two rounds.
 
DeSean Jackson was 5-for-51 in his first preseason game, Jeremy Maclin was 2-for-44, Reggie Brown was 5-for-52 and Freddie Mitchell was 2-for-25.

Even Todd Pinkston had more yards than Matthews in his first preseason game 14 years ago -- one catch for 16 yards.
 
“He was inconsistent,” Kelly said. “There was a ball on the sideline he could have caught. I don’t know if he was pressing, but there were some inconsistencies there.

“It’s the first time for guys in bright lights to have a chance to play that out of their system and calm down.”

Matthews has all the tools. Speed, size, strength. But you still have to catch the football. The Eagles return to practice Sunday at Franklin Field, then head up to Foxboro for three days of practices with the Patriots in preparation for their game Friday night.
 
“It’s just me having to make sure I bring in those balls for my team and everything,” Matthews said. “I do feel like I have to go out there and make plays, so just got to go back to the drawing board at practice and get better. That’s pretty much it.”
 
Matthews knows that as a wide receiver, a second-round pick and a record-setting receiver in college -- along with his arrival coinciding with Jackson’s departure -- he’ll be under more scrutiny than any other Eagles draft pick. Even first-round pick Marcus Smith.

He said he’s prepared for it.
 
“There’s always going to be a little bit of hoopla around on draft picks who come in … but it’s something I knew that would be there coming in,” he said.
 
“But at the same time, I just always try to make sure I block it out and continue to focus on things that I can actually control. That’s going out and practicing hard and making sure I’m a great teammate. And the rest of the stuff, I just try to block it out. It’s really not that important anyway.”

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