THE Winnipeg Blue Bombers have a league-low 13 passing touchdowns but rookie Chris Matthews has scored nearly half of those.
Matthews, who celebrated his 23rd birthday last Saturday, has six touchdowns as the Bombers' top pass-catcher and is sixth overall in the Canadian Football League in receiving yards with 974 on 64 catches.
Starting at wide receiver for the Bombers on Saturday against the Calgary Stampeders at Canad Inns Stadium, Matthews needs just 26 yards to reach 1,000 in his rookie CFL year.
He's had five games with over 100 yards receiving, including last week's 27-22 win over the Montreal Alouettes when he had six catches for 143 yards and one touchdown.
It's a great season for a young player in a tough year for his team.
"It's been very exciting, there's been a huge learning curve for me, I think I've handled it well so far but I'm still learning at the same time," said the 6-5, 218-pound Matthews, who hails from Long Beach, Calif. "It's fine individually but when you're 4-10, you'd rather have success as a team."
Acquired by the Bombers as a free agent on April 25, Matthews had attended the Cleveland Browns training camp in 2011 and had a four-yard touchdown reception in a pre-season game but was among the team's final cuts.
He has stood out in the Bombers' receiving corps not just because he has the gift of height but because of his ability to use that height to create mismatches with opposition defences and make catches under pressure.
"He's a heck of a receiver to have. He's a big target and he's really knowledgable of the game for being a rookie," said Bombers quarterback Joey Elliott.
"That's a really good sign, knowing you can expand his package. You can move him around."