Friday, December 9, 2011

Casey Matthews: Philly fans harassed my family


Casey Matthews wanted to make a good impression with Eagles fans.

It hasn’t worked out the way the rookie had hoped.

After starting at middle linebacker through training camp and the preseason, Matthews started the first two regular season games, making him the first Eagles LB to start since Alonzo Johnson in 1986.

Matthews was moved to outside linebacker in Week 3 and then benched for the past nine outings.

Turns out Eagles fans verbally abused his fiancée, aunt and young cousin during the Sept. 25 home loss to New York in which he was beaten for a 40-yard touchdown pass by Giants running back Brandon Jacobs, according to Matthews. His fiancée was targeted because she wore a Matthews jersey that day.

“Ah, I’m trying to (win the fans over),” said Matthews after Thursday’s second practice. “It’s hard. They harassed my family and made my fiancée cry. It’s tough. It’s frustrating. That’s how they are here. If you win, they love you.”

Matthews, a fourth-round pick out of Oregon, should have more chances to impress the Philly faithful over the final four weeks because he’s been promoted to nickel linebacker starting Sunday afternoon against the Dolphins in Miami. That means he’ll be on the field in mostly passing situations.

His primary role since the benching has been on special teams.

“I definitely thought I would (get another shot this year),” Matthews said. “Being able to take a step back and learn the defense definitely helped out a lot. I feel better prepared.”

“It’s another opportunity to go out there and see what I can do. I need to take advantage of it.”

DRC adjusts

The adjustment period continues for Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.

Rodgers-Cromartie spent his first nine games learning how to play nickel (slot) cornerback after he was on the outside for his first three NFL seasons with the Cardinals.

Just as he seemed to finally be growing comfortable in his new role, Rodgers-Cromartie suffered a high ankle sprain in a Nov. 13 home loss to Arizona.

He’s missed the last three games, though he plans on returning as the slot corner Sunday in Miami.

“You’re just getting into a groove, then you go down with an injury like that and you’ve got to come back,” said Rodgers-Cromartie. “Mentally, it’s going to be tough.”

Acquired on July 28 by the Eagles along with a second-round pick for QB Kevin Kolb, Rodgers-Cromartie recorded 13 interceptions, four of which he returned for touchdowns, in his first three seasons. He doesn’t have any INTs this year.

“The only frustrating part is playing a different position,” he said. “It’s difficult learning all that. That’s my biggest thing.”

Should the Eagles not bring back Asante Samuel in 2012, Rodgers-Cromartie, who has one more year left on his contract, could move back to his more familiar spot on the outside alongside Nnamdi Asomugha.

Injury update

Michael Vick (ribs) and Jeremy Maclin (shoulder, hamstring) practiced again Thursday. If they play, the Eagles could have all of their top offensive players on the field together for the first time in four weeks, which should take some of the load off running back LeSean McCoy.

“It’s been awhile,” McCoy said. “A lot of teams have been focusing so much on me. Now that we have the full team back, that’s a lot to watch out for.”

Maclin, who was a limited participant Thursday, said he felt “all right.”

Other limited participants were defensive end Trent Cole (hand), defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins (thumb) and Rodgers-Cromartie (ankle).

Surgery list

Safety Colt Anderson (left ACL) and linebacker Moise Fokou (high right ankle sprain) underwent surgery. Both players will miss the final four games.

Bring the noise

The Eagles’ first-team offense worked with deafening sound piped in to simulate the crowd noise they could hear in Miami on Sunday during Thursday’s spirited indoor session.

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