By Ben Sullivan
If you believe the hype coming out of Eagles training camp, rookie wide receiver Jordan Matthews looks so good he will make fans say, “DeSean Who?”
The coaching staff, fans and media alike have fawned all over second-round pick Matthews as well as third-round choice Josh Huff through the first two and a half weeks of training camp.
Matthews, who finished his four-year career at Vanderbilt as the leading receiver in SEC history, was elevated to the first-team offense for the first time during Tuesday’s practice session both on the outside and working as the slot receiver with both Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper dealing with injuries.
“Our expectations are high for all the players,” Eagles offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur said Tuesday. “He’s done a good job. Every hurdle we’ve given him as he prepares himself for the season, he’s done a great job of jumping over. He just continues to get better and better every day. Just like all our players, we have high expectations for him.”
Cornerback Brandon Boykin made a point to go up against Matthews in one-on-ones over the past two days in order to show the rookie a different look that he’s more likely to see in games should he line up as the slot receiver.
“Even though he’s a rookie, people are expecting him to be great, we are too,” Boykin said of Matthews after Tuesday’s practice. “Me, getting some work against him in the slot that is good for him. I told him yesterday that I wanted to go against him a little bit more so he can get a realistic look at what it’s like to go against a slot corner instead of just a safety and I think that helped him out a lot.”
Experience against Boykin should pay dividends for Matthews as the third-year cornerback hauled in six interceptions last season while lining up primarily in the slot. It’s unlikely Matthews will line up against a tougher challenge this season if he is primarily a slot receiver as a rookie.
Matthews responded to Tuesday’s promotion with another strong showing in practice and his elevation resulted in a down day for Mark Sanchez who’s timing seemed amiss with the second unit without his favorite target on the field with him.