Circle of life: Eagles' Jordan Matthews back where he belongs

PHILADELPHIA -- Everyone has their Pride Rock. For Jordan Matthews, that place is Philadelphia. So when the Eagles came calling to bring him back for a third stint, he celebrated in kind.

"I was texting all the guys like, 'Guys, it's happening, it's happening.' I was like a kid in a candy store," Matthews said on Monday, the day his signing became official. "It was like getting drafted all over again. I was just so happy. I can't even explain it. Picked up my son, ran him around the house like he was Simba. It was a good feeling, man."

Matthews played the first three years of his career in Philadelphia before being traded to Buffalo prior to the 2017 season. He has been brought back into the Eagles' fold for the second straight season to help boost a receiving corps hit by injury. Matthews, 27, was signed last September after Mike Wallace was lost for the season and Matthews posted a career-best 15 yards per reception while finishing with 20 catches for 300 yards and two scores, adding a 37-yard touchdown against the New Orleans Saints in the NFC divisional playoffs.

This time, his return was prompted by the loss of DeSean Jackson, who was recently placed on injured reserve following abdominal surgery. As was the case last season, Matthews is not a perfect replacement. Jackson and Wallace are outside deep threats whereas Matthews is more of a natural slot possession receiver.

What he does have is chemistry with Carson Wentz -- one of his best friends -- along with a deep understanding of Doug Pederson's offense. Both were evident in his second game back last season when he sprang loose for a 56-yard touchdown against the Tennessee Titans. He played 36 percent of the snaps on average and usually received two to three targets per game in 2018. Stepping in for Mack Hollins, who hasn't had a catch since September despite playing 63 percent of the snaps on average since Week 2, Matthews will undoubtedly provide an uptick in production, perhaps as early as Sunday against the New England Patriots (4:25 p.m. ET, CBS).

"The guy has made a lot of plays for the Eagles over the years," offensive coordinator Mike Groh said. "He has excellent football intelligence. He knows our system. He has familiarity there. I think there's great comfort with him in the huddle. There's rapport and chemistry with he and Carson, which is important, so certainly nice to get him back."

Matthews believes his best football is ahead of him despite the fact he hasn't had topped 300 receiving yards since 2016 and was released by the San Francisco 49ers in October after appearing in just one game. While that might be a stretch, Matthews is a natural fit in the locker room and will provide good energy and veteran experience to a receiver group that has struggled to meet expectations to this point.

"Here, it's just so organic, it's so natural. I talk to these guys about things that have nothing to do with football. I was in Carson's wedding. There's things that I've done and times I've spent with these guys that I just haven't done everywhere else," he said. "I'd die on a hill for these guys. So that's the best part about it."