By Sarah Berkowitz
To a lot of Eagles followers, Josh Huff (above) is just another Chip Kelly favorite because he played for the Birds coach at Oregon.
But to second-year receiver Jordan Matthews he’s a lot more than that, and he’ll show it this season..
“First of all, he’s not hurt,” Matthews told NJ Advance Media of Huff following Tuesday’s practice at the Novacare Complex. “I don’t think people understand just how much getting injured during your first year can really not just hurt physically, but also mentally.
“I always knew Josh had talent. Last year during OTAs Josh was doing extremely well. Our first day, I knew he was good … But I never watched Pac-12 football and I thought ‘This guy’s a dog, he could play in the SEC, easily.’ I saw the talent and that takes a toll.
Matthews found a home as the Eagles’ slot receiver and will likely work in that role once again in 2015 after a 67 catch, 872 yard and eight touchdown campaign. The Vanderbilt product though says that if roles were reversed, he isn’t sure how he would have handled Huff’s circumstances.
“I don’t even know how I would have reacted to something like that. Now that he’s fully healthy, we’re getting him through the preseason and I think it’ll be night and day the production you’re going to see out of him. He’s always been a baller. Now he has the time to get out there and prove it.”
It wasn’t just health though, that derailed Huff.
While he was only targeted 18 times — and he’ll need to take on a significantly larger role if he is to emerge as a weapon — the Oregon product had four drops. All of them seemed to come at the most inopportune times.
He also fumbled inside the red zone at a pivotal juncture of a Week 8 loss to the Arizona Cardinals.
Huff’s rookie season wasn’t a complete bust. The 5-foot-11 speedster had both a 104-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and 44-yard catch against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 14 that showed off his big play ability.
With the growing pains of a rookie campaign behind him, Huff has drawn rave reviews from Kelly about his maturity heading into his second season, something the wide receiver says he’s noticed even about himself.
“Any time you come in as a rookie,” Huff said. “It’s kind of a wide-eye view. As time goes on and you figure out how things go, how things work and what they expect of you, that’s when you become more comfortable in the offense and comfortable with yourself to just come out and be successful and make plays.”