Rookie WR Jordan Matthews has yet to catch a pass in the NFL or even play a down of football, but he is already a popular player and someone the fans have high hopes for. Matthews stood out in the OTAs and minicamp. And then you read stories like this.
Pro Bowl is the mandate. We’re not here just to play football. We’re here to dominate.
That’s the motto that floated off the lips of Tom Bender when speaking of his Atlanta-based program, which trains anywhere from 25-35 NFL players at a time during the offseason. It sounds a bit bold until you consider that his clientele includes the likes of Calvin Johnson, A.J. Green and Demaryius Thomas, arguably the top three receivers in the game.
This is the environment Jordan Matthews has nestled into for the past week, and where he’ll remain until the Eagles open training camp.
“He’s learning a lot, he’s integrating well and we’re cleaning up some of his college issues,” said Bender with a laugh.
“That’s for us to discuss. It’s just a matter of getting him to move better, clean up his routes, just clean up all aspects of his game.”
We don’t know if Matthews will be good, let alone great. But we do know that Matthews is willing to do what it takes to maximize his potential. He made himself into a star at Vanderbilt. He then worked hard to stand out at the Senior Bowl. Matthews got drafted in the 2nd round, but isn’t resting on his laurels. He is still pushing to show everyone just how good he can be.
I think too often rookies don’t have the right attitude about the NFL. They work hard in college and the pre-draft process to get drafted as high as possible. That’s when they relax. Instead, they should realize that getting drafted is just the first step in a long journey. It is the beginning of your pro career, not just the culmination of your college career.
Matthews is willing to work. He’s also willing to listen.
Similarly, a connection recommended that Bender work with Matthews, and after a phone call with the Vanderbilt product, Bender agreed.
“He’s a humble kid. He said, ‘Coach, you’ll be happy with me.’”
For Matthews, it’s a chance to learn from some of the best wideouts on the planet during the lead-up to training camp.
“They’re having fun. Jordan’s a humble guy and he’s been in work mode. He approached A.J. probably the second day he was here and started asking key questions. One of the biggest things A.J. translated is that you really have to take care of your body during the season. Your production is going to relate to how you maintain your body. And as far as with Calvin, he is not a man of many words but he’s helping [Matthews] correct some of his route running.
“They’ve enjoyed him, they’ve enjoyed his work ethic. He’s come out as far as conditioning…Some of the vets are like, ‘Slow down, young buck! Slow the pace down.’”
Chip Kelly is trying to build the Eagles with his kind of guys. Matthews could be a key piece for Kelly, on and off the field.