You know when you go to summer camp and find a new best friend? That's sort of what Training Camp must have been like for Jordan Matthews and Mark Sanchez. Throughout July and August at the NovaCare Complex, Sanchez might have completed more passes to Matthews than every other receiver on the team combined. Working with the second-team offense, the second-round draft pick and the new No. 2 quarterback found a connection that surely was meant to last.
Alas, as it does for campers everywhere, summer ended, with Matthews graduating to first-team duties as the Eagles' slot receiver. Without Sanchez, Matthews was fine. He caught 32 passes for 313 yards, an average of four catches for 39 yards per game. The two reunited briefly in game No. 8 when Sanchez relieved an injured Nick Foles and Sanchez immediately found his old buddy for a touchdown.
But in game No. 9, Matthews and Sanchez were back in full force and they picked up just where they left off, connecting seven times for 138 yards and two touchdowns.
"Of course we had something going on in camp," Matthews said. "We kind of had to. We were both on the second team at the time. So, I took the majority of the reps with him. After practice, I made sure I got extra reps with him. I knew that if I wanted to break into the lineup, I had to look good with the second-team first. That was definitely a point of emphasis for me back then. We continued to have a great relationship. I started building one with Nick (Foles), but now it's Mark's opportunity, so I have to go out and make plays for him."
Sanchez and Matthews made their greatest series of connections on the Eagles' longest drive of the night, a 91-yard jaunt that gave the team a 24-7 lead in the second quarter. During the drive, 73 of the Eagles' 91 yards were accounted for by four completions to Matthews, including two third-down conversions and the 13-yard touchdown that capped the drive.
Their second touchdown connection came in the fourth quarter when Sanchez lofted a pass to Matthews in the flat as the receiver hauled it in and ran into the end zone from 18 yards out.
"Jordan finds a way to get open," Sanchez said after the game. "Jordan will be the first one to say that he's not getting open without all of those other threats that we have. We all did a great job and we're proud of that, but Jordan had a heck of a night."
Matthews' impressive evening, with career highs in both catches and yards, was so noteworthy that he felt like someone completely different.
"I felt like I was Jeremy Maclin," Matthews joked, with his position-mate listening from a locker away. "At the same time, you have to put (the game) behind you. Like I said, I have a bunch of great guys ahead of me who show me how to be a professional. If you take too much time looking at the stats and drinking the Kool-Aid, you lose your appetite. I just try to put it behind me and move forward."
The Eagles hosted the Carolina Panthers in a Monday Night Football matchup ...