this Oct. 6, 2013, file photo, Green Bay Packers' Clay
Matthews (52) sacks Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew
Stafford during the second half of an NFL football game in
Green Bay, Wis. Some good injury news for the Packers for a
change: pass-rushing star Matthews might be on his way back
to the field, with a club wrapped around his right hand to
protect an injured thumb.
GREEN BAY —
While Aaron Rodgers is hurt, another star player looks as if he'll
soon be returning to the Packers.
Matthews is working his way toward a potential return to Lambeau
Field for Sunday's game against the Philadelphia Eagles.
The heavy black
wrap that virtually encased his right hand in practice offers a
big clue as to why he's missed the past four games.
"I think so.
You know obviously it's going to be coach's decision, but you
know, I'd like to be out there," Matthews said Thursday.
"So I'm just trying to get ready to help out in any way which
back would help offset the loss of Rodgers, who hurt his left
collarbone in Monday night's loss to the Bears.
for other positions to elevate their game and really carry this
team ... until he comes back," Matthews said.
The four-time Pro
Bowler has 45½ sacks in 62 games, including three in his four
appearances this season. His return would be a huge boost for an
outside linebacker group ravaged by injuries.
limited in practice Thursday, as were three other outside
linebackers: Mike Neal (knee), Andy Mulumba (ankle) and Nick Perry
(foot). The latter has missed the past three games. The only
healthy outside linebacker is rookie Nate Palmer.
has to get used to that "club" on his right hand he
wears in practice. From afar, it looks as if he was wearing a
large black oven mitt stuffed with foam that's sealed around his
Matthews is not a
big fan of it. "It does not feel good."
got to get used to playing, you know a little more with one hand
and obviously being comfortable with throwing it in there,"
he said. "So I'm taking baby steps in coming back to
Whether trying to
spin past an offensive tackle or leveling an undersized running
back trying to throw a block, the hands are important in helping
to get leverage.
you need to have great hands, and you know when you take one away
it definitely hinders your game a little bit," he said.
"We'll take it day-by-day, but it's getting better."
McCarthy has been watching Matthews' comfort level. Practice could
help determine whether a different kind of custom-fitting wrap is
better for Matthews, given the particular pass-rushing techniques
he might use.
But a one-armed
Matthews might be just as good as any other linebacker. After
compiling 11 sacks in the first three games without Matthews, the
Packers managed just one in Monday's 27-20 loss to Chicago.
Palmer said just
the threat of having Matthews out there could help free up other
"I hope he's
very effective," McCarthy said. "He's a dynamic football
(player) and it will be great to get him back on the field."
Eagles would also be a family affair for Matthews. His younger
brother, linebacker Casey Matthews, was a fourth-round draft pick
in 2011 out of Oregon.
said the Packers are getting the defense ready for the Eagles'
up-tempo attack with a no-huddle system. "I thought our guys
did a good job for them today. But it's a challenge,"
McCarthy said. ... Rodgers was listed on the practice report as
having not participated. The team doesn't have to declare whether
players will be out until Friday. ... G T.J. Lang (concussion) did
not practice for a second straight day, while DT Ryan Pickett
(knee) was limited Thursday.