Can Nick Foles continue to play at a high level this season? How will the Eagles use Darren Sproles? Will Brandon Graham make the team? And, probably the most popular storyline, who will replace DeSean Jackson?
The last storyline is interesting as eyes are on Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper to step up in the wake of Jackson's release. One player, rookie wide receiver Jordan Matthews, is opening a lot of eyes at training camp. Matthews, coming off strong OTAs this spring, is making a name for himself playing against the Eagles defense.
NFL Analyst and Hall of Fame wide receiver Michael Irvin was at Eagles practice two weeks ago watching the team run through drills. Matthews really stood out to Irvin as he talked with Tim McManus of Birds 24/7.
"I like what I see out here. I like what I see physically as to body type, body size and everything. And then I like what I see internally as far as work ethic and most importantly, a strong desire to be the best," Irvin told Birds 24/7 after practice. "He wants to garner all the information: 'Mr Irvin, sir, whatever you see out here today, can you call me on it and talk to me about it? When you watch film can you tell me what you see?' A young guy like that, man, that comes in with that perspective and those kind of thoughts, you can have some success with him."
Does he compare to any specific receiver?
"He can be a combination of a few guys. You watch a big guy play the slot like a Marques Colston, he has that ability but he's faster than Marques Colston. So now he gets outside he can probably do more things than a Colston can do. I look at him as a combination of a lot of good receivers in this league with an ability to be great."
The Vanderbilt product has strong ball skills which makes life easier for quarterbacks. With his long arms and big hands Matthews gives quarterbacks a large target to throw to and he does a good job of catching at its highest point. He shows strong body control and is a solid target for jump balls.
Matthews flashes above-average speed and has shown the quickness to hit a hole and take it to the house. He is not the most elusive wide receiver but he can combine speed and strength to get the precious yards after catch. He can create separation using his size but not necessarily by his route running. The wideout does a good job of finding gaps in the opposing defenses and exploiting them.
There are similarities between Matthews and Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green. This graphic shows their measurables are incredibly close coming into the NFL. Part of Matthews' Scouts Inc. scouting report reads, "[Matthews] is fearless working the middle of the field and is underrated after the catch." Green's Scouts Inc. scouting report coming out of Georgia in 2011 read, "[Green] is fearless going after passes, even when he knows he is going to get drilled." That's not bad company.
Matthews, who recently turned 22, shattered SEC records in his career at Vanderbilt. He set the SEC record for career receptions (262), career receiving yards (3,759) and single-season receptions in 2013 with 112. The 6'3", 212 lbs. wideout pulled in 112 passes last season for 1,477 yards and seven touchdowns. Matthews caught five or more passes in every game in 2013.
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