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WR Matthews: Humble And Hard Working

Posted Jun 9, 2014

He is the one who will have more of the spotlight than all in the Rookie Class of 2014. Wide receiver Jordan Matthews, a second-round draft pick, is the featured attraction and he doesn't seem fazed in the slightest ...

He is the one who will have more of the spotlight than all in the Rookie Class of 2014. Wide receiver Jordan Matthews, a second-round draft pick, is the featured attraction and he doesn't seem fazed in the slightest.

"It's my job to work as hard as I can and improve every day," said Matthews. "That's my only focus."

Matthews is a wide receiver, of course, and the position has gained its fair share of notoriety over the years and certainly has done so in Philadelphia. In many ways wide receiver is the Diva Position in the NFL, and understandably so. Wide receivers have long been the showmen of the league for their post-touchdown celebrations and sometimes-outspoken and outlandish ways. Eagles fans, certainly, there is no need to go through the list. We've had our share, indeed.

Matthews is not cut from the mold. He graduated from one of the most academically challenging universities, earning his economics degree from Vanderbilt. His head is screwed on the right way.

Matthews wasn't a five-star recruit coming out of high school, but he was wanted. He chose Vanderbilt for the football and the academics, and not necessarily in that order. Matthews wants to outwork everyone and prepare himself to be the best he is able to be.

How Matthews and his game translate to the NFL remains to be seen, of course. The kid has been an Eagle for a month and has been fed just the start of the team's offensive playbook. The road to success is a long one for Matthews, as it is for every rookie at the highest level of the game.

But the young man knows how to make a strong first impression. He's earnest in his approach the game. He's humble. He loves challenges. The moment is not overwhelming.

When, for example, reporters watching practice see Matthews catch a pass from quarterback Mark Sanchez in the non-contact training sessions and then turn up field and sprint the additional 25 yards to the end zone after the play is dead, fingers go Twittering and exclamation points are added and a story is born. Asked after practice about it encircled by the media, Matthews shakes it off. "Since middle school, I've done that," said Matthews. "It's not like something I decided to do on a whim. It's who I am."

There's a striking maturity about Matthews in the way he carries himself and the way he conducts business that exudes success. It's an encouraging start for a player who is being counted on to contribute as a rookie in a league in which rookie wide receivers are challenged like never before.

In fact, immediate-impact wide receivers are hard to find. Of last year's rookie class, San Diego's Keenan Allen stood out with 71 catches, 1,046 yards and 8 touchdowns. Houston's DeAndre Hopkins and Dallas' Terrance Williams both had big-play moments and they have bright futures.

History says the position has as many misses as hits, and even more so for the rookie class. In the past 21 seasons, only eight rookie wide receivers (Anquan Boldin, Randy Moss, Terry Glenn, Michael Clayton, Marques Colston, A.J. Green, Joey Galloway and Allen) have gained 1,000 or more yards receiving as rookies.

Of course, the Eagles aren't necessarily looking at Matthews in that manner. He's learning the slot position initially, competing for playing time, and understanding that the Eagles have a complete offense and that he is one of the pieces.

"That's what you see every day. Great players everywhere here," said Matthews. "I'm learning as much as I can, seeing how these players go about their business."

Matthews and fellow wide receiver Josh Huff were the only offensive players selected among the seven-player draft class, and they're going to have all eyes and attention throughout the preseason. It's easier for us -- as sideline observers -- to watch and rate wide receivers than it is to see how a linebacker is progressing, or to judge an interior lineman.

All of that scrutiny is part of the game. Matthews gets it. He not only gets it, he embraces it.

"I've worked hard to get here and I know it's going to take even more work to stay here and play at the level I want to play," said Matthews. "So I understand that everything is larger in the NFL. That's not my focus. I'm focused on coming to work every day and playing the game and making myself better. That's the only thing that matters to me. How can I help this team win games?"

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