Game within the game: Matthews vs Watkins

- October 19th, 2012

TORONTO — Not surprisingly, plenty of attention will be on the pivots on Friday night as the Toronto Argonauts host the Winnipeg Blue Bombers at Rogers Centre.

Both teams are welcoming their starting QB back into the fray, with Buck Pierce back at the controls for the Blue and Gold and Ricky Ray behind centre for the Boatmen.

While there are plenty of storylines and battles that we’ll be keeping our eyes on this evening, one of the most intriguing match-ups on the field will feature Blue Bombers rookie WR Chris Matthews and Argos CB Patrick Watkins.

Matthews is having an outstanding season — as documented by Sun columnist Paul Friesen right here: http://www.winnipegsun.com/2012/10/18/how-long-will-chris-matthews-play-for-bombers – and he’s chasing the CFL record for receiving yards by a rookie.

This is the third time these two giants — Matthews is 6-foot-5 while Watkins is also listed at 6-foot-5 — and the first two meetings have seen Matthews produce mixed results.

In the first meeting at Rogers Centre back on July 18, Matthews went to the ground awkwardly and left with an injury but returned later, but caught only one pass for 16 yards.

Then in Winnipeg on Sept. 29, Matthews had a far bigger impact, hauling in seven passes for 82 yards.

Matthews followed up that showing with six catches for 143 yards and a TD in the win over the Montreal Alouettes, then seven more grabs for 116 yards and a TD against the Calgary Stampeders last week.

Not many DBs are able to look Matthews in the eye and I asked the receiver if he looks forward to going head-to-head with a guy like Watkins.

“It definitely is, I like playing against him,” said Matthews, the first true Blue Bombers rookie to eclipse 1,000 receiving yards in a season. “It sets a real extreme challenge to go up against somebody who is my size who can run good, cover good and has good strength. It helps my game out to go against him. So that when I go against people that are smaller than him, it’s a lot easier for me.”

Watkins enjoys the competition from someone that can look him in the eyes as well.

“It is unique and it gives me something different to work on,” Watkins said Friday after the Argos walk-through. “I like playing against Chris and I respect him as a player. He’s a big-play receiver and if you don’t respect him, he will hit you deep.

“All receivers bring something different to the table. Chris is big, strong and he has great instincts to find the ball when it’s in the air. When the ball is in the air, it can be anybody’s ball, especially at that height.

“I love going against everybody that is considered either good, elite, the best. That’s just my mentality. The only way I can judge myself and figure out where I’m at as far as football goes is going against the best. I look forward to any opportunity, especially against a 6-foot-5 receiver as talented as Chris.”

I asked Argos head coach Scott Milanovich if having a 6-foot-5 DB at his disposal was a weapon and he gave an interesting response.

“It allows you to match up on jump balls and fades a little better and sometimes it will discourage a team from doing as much of that,” said Milanovich. “His long arm, his reach, his ability to play press-man, it’s hard to get around a guy that’s that long and that tall. He can get a jam on you and then disrupt your route.”

For the rest of our game-day tee-up package, click here: http://www.winnipegsun.com/bombers

And don’t forget to join us at 2 pm CT this afternoon for our weekly live chat on everything Blue and Gold.

Categories: Football

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