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July 27, 2017

Jordan Matthews says he’ll practice without limitations, only plays football 'for respect'

There aren’t as many obvious subplots heading into the 2017 Eagles training camp as, say, last year (when Sam Bradford, Carson Wentz, and for some reason, Chase Daniel were all sharing the quarterback reps), but one of the players to watch is Jordan Matthews. The Eagles top wide receiver the past two seasons in terms of yards had missed a lot of spring practices with a somewhat mysterious case of knee tendinitis.

Matthews was on the field Thursday, and from the looks of things, he was moving pretty good. The fourth-year year receiver even had the catch of the day, going up over a defensive back and making a long touchdown snag during team drills.

After practice, Matthews was asked if he was still dealing with an injured knee.

“If I’m playing, like I came out here and practiced, it’s nothing,” he said. “Cause once you come out here and play, the guy across from here, he ain’t thinking, ‘How you feeling?’ No, it’s ball. I woudn’t come out here and play unless I was 100 percent.”

Part of the reason that Matthews had a horde of reporters asking him questions after his first practice had to do with a confusing explanation from Doug Pederson on the first day of training camp. The Eagles head coach indicated there was nothing wrong with Matthews’ knee while also not necessarily denying that the slot receiver would be limited for some of training camp.

Matthews, who is currently the best quote in Philadelphia sports outside of Joel Embiid, wouldn’t specify what type of injury he dealt with during OTAs and mini-camp.

“I hate putting a specific word on it because then people say, ‘Oh well, I played with that before,’” Matthews said. “Trust me, if I could be out here in play, I would be out here playing and practicing. That should never be a question about me. When it comes to this game, I’m always going to come out here and go to work.”

For what it’s worth, Pederson’s tune somewhat changed on Thursday. Just like Matthews, he indicated that the receiver would be “full-go” with no limitations moving forward.

Besides the health concerns, Matthews is also entering the final year of his rookie contract without an extension. There was some speculation that a possible trade (which we have written makes sense in theory) or financial concerns could be why the Vanderbilt product was missing time in the spring.

On this issue, Matthews was crystal clear: “I would literally never do that,” he said.

“My parents were affluent, I never needed anything. So when I played football, I played football for respect. That’s all I played for. So it was never a sense of, “OK, I got to get to the league to get money to my mom a house.’ I respect anybody who has to do that, but I never had to do that. So I never really played for money.

“I went across the middle because I wanted to make sure the guy across from me respected me. That’s not going to change.”

Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann

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