Jordan Matthews on mysterious knee problems: 'It's been a long process'

Jordan Matthews on mysterious knee problems: 'It's been a long process'

His knees have hurt for so long, Jordan Matthews isn't even sure when it all began.

On the first day of full-team Eagles practice, Matthews was a full participant and said he felt great after the 90-minute non-contact session.

But he also said he considered offseason surgery before deciding to rehab instead, and said it's been a "long process" getting to the point where he can practice without discomfort.

"It's been a long time that it was bothering me," Matthews said Thursday. "It definitely went into [last] season. Not just that one but even the other one, because of the compensation. Anybody who's ever had an injury understands that you start working one side more than the other, and then before I know it, being once the ankle [injury] happened [last December], then that threw me off even more.

"So it's been a long process. I know it's something I had to deal with, but it's something that I'm recovering from now. But I feel great today and so I'm really trying to put it behind me."

Matthews, whose 225 catches are 10th most in NFL history by a wide receiver in his first three seasons, missed the last two games of last season with that ankle injury.

His status was really a huge mystery all offseason. But that mystery was partially solved when he practiced on Thursday.

"I will say, 'If I'm out here playing, then don't worry about it.' That's what I'll say," Matthews said. "If I'm playing, like I came out here in practice, then it's nothing. … I wouldn't come out here and play unless I was 100 percent. Unless I feel like I could come out here and do what I can do. I feel great and I was glad I was able to come out here and make some plays."

Matthews did not look quite like himself at points last year. He had a career-low 11.0 yards per catch and had just three catches of 30 yards or more. He also caught a career-low three touchdowns.

On Thursday, the Eagles unveiled their new-look wide receiver crew, with free-agent acquisitions Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith and draft picks Mack Hollins and Shelton Gibson.

Matthews lined up both outside with Jeffery or in the slot, with Jeffery and either Agholor or Smith outside.

"I was able to go out there, do all the plays they scripted for me to do," he said. "I got to work in every receiver position, so I was excited about that. And just being able to get back out there with the guys.

"I missed a lot of time, so my biggest thing is just getting back up to speed and building that chemistry back up with everyone."

Matthews has been hearing people ask, "How are you?" since he reported to the NovaCare Complex on Wednesday morning.

He said the only answer to that is … if he's practicing, he's fine. So don't ask.

"I think the biggest thing is not to think about it," he said. "When people come and ask me, 'How you feeling?' once I hit this field I'm going to tell you I'm feeling great. Because I feel like whatever I speak, that's what's going to manifest itself. I'm just going to speak positively and I'm going to come out here and work hard.

"And then the other thing, too, just everything what I've always done. Do my rehab protocol, make sure I'm always getting the proper amount of rest — acupuncture, massage, all that stuff. But to be honest, I'm going to be optimistic. That's not going to be a long-term deal, and that I'll be good to go as camp goes on."

The Eagles officially listed Matthews as having tendinitis, but he declined to define exactly what's happening in his knees.

"I hate putting a specific word on it because then people say, 'Oh, well, I've played with that before,'" Matthews said. "Trust me, if I could be out here and play, I would be out here playing. I would be out here 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.

"I don't like to put a word on it, but definitely something I have to monitor, something that I have to get better at, but they've been patient with me, Coach (Doug) Pederson's been awesome with me. I couldn't be more thankful for the guys in this locker room and the coaching staff who have definitely helped me throughout this process."

Matthews conceded that no matter how hard he tries to ignore the injury, he knows playing might not come as easily for him unless he's totally healed.

"There's always an apprehension," Matthews said. "I'm not going to sit here and lie to you, like of course, whenever you're coming back from anything, it's like, 'What can I do?' It's football. I'm going against guys that are trying to feed their family, so they're not worried about whatever I'm going through, so I can't worry about it either. I've just got to come out here and work hard. It's definitely something that can be in your mind, but once I step on the field, I try and just put it behind me and make plays."

Chris Long leaning one way with decision to return

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Chris Long leaning one way with decision to return

It seems like Chris Long is going to be back with the Eagles in 2018 — at least he’s leaning that way. 

The Eagles gave Long a significant raise for next season, increasing his base salary from $1 million non-guaranteed to $2 1/2 million guaranteed, but Long was still reportedly thinking about walking away (see story)

After all, money probably isn’t going to be the only deciding factor for a guy who gave all of his salary away last season. 

But after less than a day of speculation, Long’s Waterboys charity had an event in St. Louis on Wednesday night and the veteran defensive end was asked about his future in the NFL. 

“For me, at my age, every year is important to make a decision and to take self inventory,” Long said. “Is your body there, is your mind in it, do you have the passion? Because it takes a lot. For me, every year I’m one year at a time from here on out. For however long I play. Philly’s been awesome, like I said. They kind of adopted me like family, so that definitely factors into everything. The chance to repeat. 

“I’m still supposedly mulling it over, but I’m leaning on going back and playing. So yeah. I mean, I hadn’t even answered any questions about that, but there you go.”

Here’s the video, clipped by Bleeding Green Nation, to hear Long say it for himself: 

Long will turn 33 on March 28 and clearly has plenty going on outside of football, so it wouldn’t be shocking if the former first-round pick decided to walk away. But if he did, the Eagles would clearly miss him. 

During the 2017 season, Long picked up five sacks in a limited role and helped the Eagles win Super Bowl LII, a year after helping the Patriots win Super Bowl LI. If Long does indeed return to the Eagles this season, he has a chance to make it three in a row. 

Big-time pass rusher traded away from NFC East

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Big-time pass rusher traded away from NFC East

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — A person familiar with the deal says the New York Giants have traded defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for two draft picks.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity Thursday because neither team has announced the deal that gets Tampa Bay the former first-round draft pick whose career was interrupted by a fireworks accident in 2015 that severely damaged his right hand.

The Giants will receive Tampa Bay's third-round draft pick this season for Pierre-Paul, who signed a four-year, $62 million deal a year ago. The teams will swap fourth-round picks next year.

The trade was first reported by ESPN.

Pierre-Paul had 68 tackles, eight sacks and two forced fumbles last season. He had 58 career sacks since being draft in the first round in 2010. He helped the Giants win a Super Bowl in the 2011 season.