Clay Matthews said playing with a cast on his hand last week was much easier than playing with the club the week before.
Then again, it could hardly have been worse.
After one solo tackle and two assisted stops against the Eagles, Matthews had two solo tackles, two assisted tackles, one sack and two passes defensed against the Giants. His improvement is reflected in the team stats. After yielding a season-high 204 rushing yards to Philadelphia, Green Bay limited New York to 78 – its best performance since facing Baltimore in Week 6.
He’s hoping for a similar step forward when the Green Bay Packers host the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday.
“It was a lot easier than playing with the club,” Matthews said on Thursday. “Obviously, you never want to play with any limitations with your hands, especially the position I play. It was, in fact, a lot better for me to have my fingers out and to be more comfortable throwing it around there along with the healing the process. So, hopefully, we’ll be that much more progressed with the healing and as far as being comfortable playing with a cast, and I expect it to be the same this week.”
The Packers need Matthews and the front seven to turn in a big performance against the Vikings with Adrian Peterson coming to town for what is a must-win game for beat-up Green Bay’s sinking playoff hopes.
“I don’t think we have a doomsday mentality as far as those looking in as far as the injuries,” Matthews said. “It is, sometimes, comical. You look at last week, all of a sudden Sam (Shields) is on the injury report. It seems like we get a new one each and every week, which can be devastating. But it’s the next man, it’s no different, just like next man up was the next man to the next man. It’s just part of the deal. Unfortunately, it is what it is. We’re trying to pick up our game and weather the storm. So, hopefully guys who aren’t on IR are able to come back. Hopefully, that’s enough. I know we’ve done some good things out there, but there’s always room for improvement. It obviously needs to start this week.”
Packers injury report
Did not participate: RT Don Barclay (knee), CB Casey Hayward (hamstring), CB Micah Hyde (groin), DE Johnny Jolly (groin), CB James Nixon (knee), OLB Nick Perry (foot/ankle), QB Aaron Rodgers (collarbone), CB Sam Shields (hamstring). Limited: C Evan Dietrich-Smith (knee), OLB OLB Mike Neal (abdomen), DT Ryan Pickett (knee). Full: OLB Clay Matthews (thumb), Andy Mulumba (ankle).
New to the list was Hyde, meaning the Packers were down three of their top five cornerbacks and had only Tramon Williams, Davon House and Jarrett Bush available. Hyde, however, said he expects to practice on Friday and was just being cautious with Shields and Hayward sidelined.
“Yeah, I think that’s definitely an issue, too. Everyone’s being cautious. It’s just sore,” Hyde said.
As for Shields, coach Mike McCarthy said he is a “50/50” proposition for Sunday.
Vikings injury report
Did not participate: LB Erin Henderson (not injury related), RB Adrian Peterson (groin), CB Josh Robinson (chest), TE Kyle Rudolph (foot), C John Sullivan (concussion). Limited: DE Jared Allen (back), FB Rhett Ellison (ankle), DT Fred Evans (knee/shoulder), DT Letroy Guion (chest), WR Greg Jennings (Achilles), LB Michael Mauti (knee), DE Brian Robison (neck). Full: RB Matt Asiata (shoulder), LB Chad Greenway (wrist), QB Christian Ponder (left shoulder).
Allen and Robison, the starting defensive ends, were added to the list. Jennings, who did not participate on Wednesday and sat out last week’s game against Seattle, returned to practice and vowed he’d play against his former team.
-- If Hyde is out, who would return kicks? “We’ve got young guys and veterans alike that are prepared to handle return roles,” special teams coordinator Shawn Slocum said. “Micah, I fully expect him to be there, but Johnathan Franklin and Myles White’s done a good job at practice and we’ve got Tramon and Jordy that are available.”
-- The Packers usually go in pads on Thursday but went in shells because of the injury situation and a short week coming up with the Thanksgiving game at Detroit next week. “You have to be smart,” coach Mike McCarthy said. “Really, these conversations are going on in the offseason. The way I’ve always done it, you lay out your schedule for the whole season. The health of your football team obviously adjusts that, where you are as a team as far as the components of practice you move around and the areas of emphasis you want to hit. That’s what we did today. We cut out I think 15 minutes of practice, moved some of it to inside work. I thought the quality was excellent.”
-- Running backs coach Alex Van Pelt doesn’t think Eddie Lacy has hit the rookie wall. Lacy had 14 carries against the Giants but between 22 and 29 the previous six games. “Nah, I don’t see that. I don’t,” Van Pelt said. “You hear about it and see it. It happens more mentally than physically, I think, just the beatings and you start to drag a little bit. We always address it, we talk about it. We’re in Week 14 of games played, including the preseason, so his season’s over in college. We address it, we talk about it and we find ways to fight through it but I don’t see it physically at all.”
-- Quarterbacks coach Ben McAdoo told ESPN’s Rob Demovsky that Seneca Wallace, who injured his groin against Philadelphia two weeks ago, hasn’t been around the team since the Monday following that game.
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.