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August 21, 2015

Breakfast with the Birds: Jordan Matthews being underrated?

Heading into training camp, the Eagles’ receiving corps was generally considered to be a question mark. After the departure of Jeremy Maclin in free agency and the addition of Nelson Agholor in the draft, Chip Kelly was left with a few talented young receivers that were generally unproven at the NFL level. Oh, and Riley Cooper. 

One player that we saw have a very solid season in 2014 in Kelly’s up-tempo attack was rookie Jordan Matthews, who worked primarily out of the slot. According to Brandon Lee Gowton of Bleeding Green Nation, the former second-round pick had himself a day against Baltimore on Thursday:

Bradford targeted Matthews deep. The wide receiver only got one hand on the ball before it fell incomplete. Matthews wanted a flag on the play and he got it. A little later on, Bradford targeted Matthews deep again. And guess what? Matthews couldn't catch it because a Ravens defensive back was hanging on him like ornaments on a Christmas tree. Another flag. Baltimore just couldn't handle Jordan Matthews.

From everything you read, it seems as if the young receivers are having a solid camp. This could be a very important development. Matthews might not be as flashy as someone like Agholor, but he is very, very good. More Gowton:

Jordan Matthews has looked awesome this summer. He's looked so good that I unintentionally ignore his greatness sometimes because it's already to be expected at this point. But today was an especially good day for him. It started off when he made some tough catches going up one-on-one against Ravens defensive backs. No matter how difficult the catch, he would pull it off. His best one was on a diving grab to catch a Bradford throw.

After going 67-872-8 as a rookie, it’s exciting to see what Matthews has in store for an encore. Over at Iggles Blitz, Tommy Lawlor is echoing similar sentiments to Gowton:

Great point by BLG that sometimes we take players for granted. It is easy to forget Matthews and focus on other receivers who we have questions about. Those guys are more interesting because we don’t know what to make of them. But it is good to recognize how good of a player Matthews has become in only his second season.

Thursday recap

1. Jimmy’s practice notes: Unfortunately, this was the last practice open to the media. Vinny Curry got a lot of reps at outside linebacker, Matthews channeled his inner Maclinho, and E.J. Biggers received a nickname. From now on, Jimmy will have to determine who is playing well in practice by the players that Chip Kelly hands out nicknames to.

2. Random Eagles notes: DeMeco likes Kiko, Ed Reynolds’ ball hawking past, and misleading spider charts.

3. Marcus Smith injury: This was the biggest news of the day. If Smith is out for a significant period of time, the Eagles’ depth at outside linebacker is seriously going to get tested. 

4. Bradford’s status uncertain: Chip Kelly wouldn’t commit to playing Sam Bradford on Saturday night against Baltimore, even after saying that would be the case a week earlier. We will see.

5. Chip on the Ravens: Similar to when they held these joint practices with New England the last two years, the Eagles are getting a chance to work on some things against a Super Bowl contender from the AFC. Kelly had a lot to say about Saturday night’s opponent, who his team won’t see in the regular season.

6. Jimmy’s chat: “Foles would destroy him in a race, I think, ha.”

What they’re saying

Philadelphia Eagles training camp: Sam Bradford shining: Conor Orr,

Orr liked what he saw from the Eagles’ new starting quarterback:

Bradford, who was traded to the Eagles this offseason after five seasons with the St. Louis Rams, is incredibly accurate and will be a joy to watch in this offense, now that he has a suitable scheme and dynamic weapons around him. The main difference between Bradford and Sanchez is that Bradford is hyper decisive, or at least he appeared that way Wednesday. Every ball -- for better or worse -- is off with a rhythmic timing that borders on clockwork. Every dropback, bounce and release is identical. Kelly's offense is impressive because it often presents a wide-open receiver on every play. Now, the coach might have the added luxury of a quarterback in Bradford who can thread the occasional show-stopper into double-coverage.

The Grantland NFL Podcast - NFC East Preview: Robert Mays and Bill Barnwell, Grantland

Podcast. Mays and Barnwell always do solid work, and they predict that the Birds will get nine and ten wins, respectively. Barnwell calls the Eagles “the highest variance team in the league,” a sentiment that I pretty much agree with. Both guys also believe that the Eagles are the most interesting team in the league. Stay thirsty, my friends. Mays also compares DeMeco Ryans to Lance Harbor (Paul Walker) from “Varsity Blues.”

Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann