Monday afternoon, Jordan Matthews returned to practice for the first time since he suffered a knee injury on August 5. However, unlike when he last took the field with his teammates, he is now one of two Eagles wide receivers with the most NFL experience among the position group.
After the release of Chris Givens and Rueben Randle on Sunday, Matthews and Josh Huff are the veterans of the receiver corps, each with three years in the league. A young room is of no concern to Matthews though because it gives these players an opportunity to grow together and develop the habits that will allow them to succeed down the road.
"I think at the end of the day you've got a situation where, and I've been vocal about this too, we have guys that have been here, were drafted to be Eagles and are young guys," Matthews said. "You want to work with those guys. You want to be patient with those guys. Some of the best teams are the ones who draft their guys and they work through it with them.
"I was talking about it yesterday. One of my favorite receivers, Jordy Nelson, did not go for 1,000 yards until his fourth season, but nobody was really paying attention to it because he had a guy like Greg Jennings. You look at the Steelers, nobody knew how great AB (Antonio Brown) was but the Steelers. They had Mike Wallace at the time. You just draft guys, get them better and you want to bring them into this system."
During his time out, Matthews diligently watched his teammates and saw vast improvement from Week 1 of the preseason to this point. Coming off a season where he was just 3 yards shy of 1,000 yards himself, Matthews is working to perfect his game as well. Together, he knows the receivers will all push to make each other better players.
That's why Matthews wasn't surprised by the roster cuts. In his mind, it would be difficult to justify keeping players with more years in the NFL over younger receivers who were brought to Philadelphia and are still working toward reaching their full potential, especially after the showing Huff had against the Colts, the abilities Dorial Green-Beckham showed in his first games as an Eagle, the work ethic of Nelson Agholor and the impressive play of the team's undrafted rookie free agents.
"When you've got guys who have been in the system, been a part of this culture and they're still doing well, they're still progressing, it's kind of hard to say, 'We're going to bring in some guys from the outside,' and just boom," Matthews said. "But, that's not an insult to those guys. They played hard. I loved every second of practicing with Rueb (and) Chris. I wish them the best, but at the same time, I've got to worry about what's going on right here. Now, we've just got to get better with the guys we have."
Receiver Jordan Matthews rejoined the team today as they began preparing for their fourth and final preseason game on September 1 against the Jets.