Jordan Matthews last took part in an Eagles practice almost four months ago. There was uncertainty about who would coach the Eagles, who would play quarterback, and even how he would be used.

The Eagles return to the practice field this week for voluntary minicamp with answers to all those questions.

New coach Doug Pederson will lead his team in drills for the first time on Tuesday. Sam Bradford is the starting quarterback after re-signing with the team before free agency. He will participate in his first spring practice since 2013, one month after hosting Matthews and Zach Ertz at his home in Oklahoma.

And Matthews is the top receiver, although he is no longer entirely a slot receiver. He will spend more time on the outside this spring than he did in his first two seasons with the Eagles.

They will all be a part of an important three-day minicamp offered to teams with new coaches. The camp allows Pederson to get acquainted with his players on the field before the draft and make his presence known.

"It's not a crazy culture shock because it's still just football," Matthews said. "With Coach Pederson, obviously we've got to get to know him more. I can't base everything off of a week and a half. But I think you'll start seeing a difference."

In Chip Kelly's up-tempo, no-huddle offense, the wide receivers stuck to left, right, and inside. Matthews mostly played on the inside since the team selected him out of Vanderbilt in the second round of the 2014 draft. He has been productive in that role - Matthews has had 152 catches for 1,869 yards, and 16 touchdowns in two seasons - but Pederson is committed to seeing how Matthews plays on the outside. Matthews said the Eagles will rotate all of their receivers in different spots.

"Essentially everybody's going to be doing that," Matthews said. "The only difference is it's not going to be where I was like 90-something percent in the slot. I'll have more looks on the outside. That's not a secret. As for adjusting to it, I don't think it's something that's extremely difficult. That's what I did all in college. . . . I feel going inside helped me now with my routes because they had to be so precise, and now we have more space on the outside. Going against what some people say are better corners will only help my play anyway. That's the kind of thing I actually look forward to."

Matthews said he'll get more one-on-one coverage and won't be limited to mostly crossing patterns and maneuvering between players in the middle of the field. He also could be on the field for a higher percentage of plays this season. Matthews took 79 percent of the offensive snaps last year, but he was often on the sideline when the Eagles went to two-receiver formations. Matthews expects to stay on the field in those packages this year because he can play on the outside.

"At the end of the day, my biggest thing is I'm just looking to be on the field more," Matthews said. He later added, "I'm working toward being on the field the entire game. That's where I feel my role can be."

It also helps that Matthews has developed a strong connection with his quarterback. When Bradford arrived last March, Matthews knew little about him other than as a character in a video game. Bradford spent last summer working to get healthy, which limited his presence in the locker room.

Bradford was reserved, and Matthews did not get a strong read on him. As the season progressed, Bradford took on a larger role. The two became close, and Matthews pushed for Bradford to return this season.

"If you come back, I'm coming to Oklahoma," Matthews told Bradford at the end of the year.

Ertz wanted to join them, too. So after Bradford signed his contract, they carved out the time. The two spent a week with Bradford at his offseason home. They worked out in the weight room and on the field together. They played golf and shared the downtime, with Matthews enjoying a home that has Heisman Trophy sitting on a table. By the end of the trip, Matthews got to know Bradford a little better.

"I think people understand that Sam's a private person, but I understood more [about him]," Matthews said. "I think people are like, 'He's a quarterback, he's trying to [keep] everything out.' I think that's just who he is, man. And I don't think enough people respect that in this age of people on social media, everything's always out there. . . .

"I think sometimes it looks like he doesn't care or something or he's just passive. He's not, man. He has a very competitive spirit. He's just very private. . . . And you can just tell he's at peace with where he is, so it's really cool to see. I like spending time with him."

The two will show off their connection beginning at minicamp on Tuesday. Matthews fell 3 yards shy of 1,000 last season, and his drops were part of the reason he did not reach that total. Entering his third year, he can become of one of the team's top players - and one of the leaders in the locker room. Matthews said his breakout seasons in high school and college were his third years. He'll have a chance to do it in the NFL, too.

"For me to come out here and make all these promises, it really doesn't do anything," Matthews said. "I'd rather go prove my point on the field, in practice, in the film room, and to the coaches anyway. But it's definitely been really exciting. I'm in a good position here to go out and make plays and help this team do well. But definitely, I'm always looking to step up."

zberman@phillynews.com

@ZBerm