As he got up off the turf after trying to run down a ball in one-on-ones with the defensive backs and taking a hard fall at St. John Fisher, he was in denial. The feeling in his chest was not a good one, but there was no way Buffalo's newest receiver was injured.
"I've been consistent in my career with being at practice and being there for my team and not missing games and everything," said Jordan Matthews. "For that to happen not only the first practice, but the first play when the ball came to me I was kind of in disbelief. That's why I finished the whole practice. I was like, 'There's no way I just hurt myself on my first day as a Bill.' That's not possible, but when I got done with practice I realized my chest and arm had kind of stiffened up a bit. At that point I kind of knew."
A chip fracture in Matthews' sternum was the diagnosis. Since that day Matthews has been listed as week to week, but on Sunday he got some light running in and caught some passes as he works his way back into his new offense with his new teammates.
"I'm a competitor and I want to get back out there," he said. "So I was excited to get back out there a little bit and run around. I'm really looking forward to getting back out there and playing."
Right now playing in the preseason sounds very ambitious. Matthews likened the fracture in his sternum to a rib injury. Sneezing, coughing or any other kind of sudden motion of his upper body creates a great deal of pain.
"It's extremely different," said Matthews of his injury. "One of the doctors said the only other time he had seen the injury was with a hockey player and he got hit with a stick right in that spot. So it's definitely a unique injury. I'm a person who believes that all these things happen for a reason. It must be to have more time to get acclimated to the playbook and to know the guys.
"Even though it was unfortunate it gave me the chance to get into my playbook and just get to learn the Buffalo environment a little bit, without the add on of having practice and having to physically perform."
According to Matthews the steps back to the playing field are pretty straightforward. He's running again, but the regular arm motion that goes with that is still painful, so that hasn't been incorporated yet.
"It doesn't take somebody hitting me in my chest for it to flare up," Matthews said. "It's any type of movement where I really have to use my upper body. So right now we're trying to get back into running, using regular arm motion and getting functional movement down. Once I can get that down, get that blood flow and that healing and the pain is more centrally located to just the sternum I'll know it's time to move on, get something to protect it and let's go play football."
That's why with the time Matthews has left before the season opener Sept. 10th, he's optimistic he'll be ready for Week 1.
"I'm extremely confident. I had an injury last preseason. Unfortunately it kept me out of some time when I was with the Eagles, but I was able to come back Week 1 and I had a very productive game," said Matthews.
"I know how to take mental reps. I know how to stay in shape and I know how to stay on top of the playbook. Obviously it's a totally different scenario. I had been with the Eagles for a long time. This scenario is different. I've only been with the Bills for a little while.
"I want to go out there and prove myself to my teammates. I want them to know I'm tough. I want them to know I'm not the type of guy who wants to miss practice. So I want to be there before that, but I'm extremely confident that I will be able to play for Week 1."
The reason why is the area in which he's experiencing the pain is getting smaller by the day.
"It's more pain management," he said. "Let's get the pain down and get all functional movement back and then when it's just that one spot hurting, let's protect that spot and go play football."
Matthews says he's "on top" of the playbook. Coming from a west coast system in Philadelphia there's a lot of carry over to Buffalo's offensive scheme. Plus he has Tyrod Taylor as his next door neighbor in the locker room.
He credits Taylor with helping him with those one or two assignments he doesn't know completely on the fly in walk-throughs, which he feels will enable him to play fast right away when he returns.
For now he's staying mindful of the fact that he's the new guy and he's not on the field. Eager to prove himself, Matthews believes performing on the field will help him build new relationships with his Bills teammates.
"When I come into a new environment I try not to talk too much," he said. "I don't care whether you're a rookie or going into your fourth year, have production or you don't. People do things different so you don't want to impose too much of your personality on people.
"So I'm just kind of taking my time, getting to know everybody. It's awesome having Tyrod as a locker mate and we talk about something that we both understand which is football. Then I give him his space and let him do what he does and then when I get back healthy we can continue to build that friendship and hopefully it turns into something good."