Bay Packers' Clay Matthews wears a club on his hand during
the first half of an NFL football game against the
Philadelphia Eagles Sunday, Nov. 10, 2013, in Green Bay,
GREEN BAY —
Clay Matthews' fingers on his right hand are free.
Maybe that will
give the Packers' defense a tighter grasp on shutting down
opponents in the fourth quarter.
Green Bay has
been outscored 83-46 in fourth quarters this year. It's a
season-long problem especially exposed the last two weeks when
long drives by the Bears and Eagles chewed away fourth-quarter
minutes in victories over the Packers at Lambeau Field.
game-ending 15-play, 75-yard drive in the final 9:32 of the 27-13
loss to Philadelphia was especially painful.
the next week," Matthews would only say when asked about that
Otherwise, it was
a typically colorful Matthews on Thursday. He might be in an
especially good mood because he no longer has a large, heavy wrap,
or "club" encasing his right hand to protect a thumb
healing from surgery. He's still wearing a protective cast for the
thumb, but it appears as if it will offer Matthews more mobility
with his other fingers.
Time to get
better grip on shedding blockers.
with my fingers back, I'll be like a feline who got his whiskers
back and then I'll be able to be more spry out there," the
pass-rushing specialist said Thursday.
Eagles DeSean Jackson, left, attempts to catch a pass as
Green Bay Packers' Tramon Williams and Morgan Burnett
Bennett, right, defend during an NFL football game on
Sunday, Nov. 10. 2013, in Green Bay, Wis.
Matthews is always better for the Packers, who have been weighed
down by injuries all year.
This week, fellow
outside linebacker Nick Perry (foot/ankle) and cornerback Casey
Hayward (hamstring) have been sidelined again. Defensive tackle
Johnny Jolly hasn't practiced yet this week, too, with a groin
injury. He said Thursday he would be ready for Sunday's game
against the Giants.
LB Mike Neal
(abdomen) and DT Ryan Pickett (knee) are two other key defenders
on the injury report. Coach Mike McCarthy said earlier this week
that the team, in part, hasn't overcome the changes that come with
the rash of injuries.
They're also not
using injuries as an excuse for the subpar fourth quarters.
always talking about who's not there; we need to focus on what the
hell we're doing," McCarthy said Monday. He had promised a
heightened emphasis on tackling this week.
A lack of
turnovers has also hurt. The Packers have just three interceptions
interceptions are going to come as long as you play with the right
technique doing your job, because when they come, they come in
bunches," safety Morgan Burnett said about the lack of
A lack of picks,
though, is a problem the whole game, not just late. Burnett said
he doesn't think problems are being compounded in the fourth
"No it is
just do your job, play the defense and put (the Eagles game)
behind us and move forward," Burnett said.
Pickett, who doesn't think there's "magic formula" to
playing better late.
House said it might come down to mentality. "Everyone has
just got to know and buckle down when it's the fourth
quarter," he said. "So it's changing the culture.
the Green Bay Packers are known as, when the fourth quarter comes
along, we're giving up late scores and late yardage," House
said. "I guess it's just a mentality-type thing."
It's a message
especially emphasized on the team this week.
yeah," House said. "Not just this week, the last couple
Aaron Rodgers still on the mend from a fractured left collarbone,
the margin of error is smaller for the rest of the Packers, no
matter the time of the game.
Evan Dietrich-Smith (knee) was limited a second straight day of
practice, while RT Don Barclay (knee) missed a second straight
practice. The team had ordered a knee brace for Barclay. "He
didn't probably feel as good today as we had hoped. So we'll see
how he is tomorrow. I'm going to give him a chance, the full week
to try and give it a go," McCarthy said. ... Rodgers watched
in sweats while watching Scott Tolzien and newly-signed Matt Flynn
in practice. Tolzien, who was on the practice squad two weeks ago,
is expected to start Sunday against the Giants. ... McCarthy said
Hayward could miss a few weeks again after re-aggravating his
hamstring injury. Hayward missed the season's first six games with
GREEN BAY —
Packers tight end Jermichael Finley plans to have spinal fusion
surgery and intends to play football again.
Blake Baratz, said Thursday that Finley has been working with the
Packers organization in determining what's best after suffering a
neck injury last month in a game against the Browns.
Baratz said it
was collectively determined that surgery may not be 100 percent
necessary, but is a "proactive measure that should alleviate
future risks with regards to a similar episode or re-injury."
said Finley's long-term health is the primary concern, and that
Finley intends to resume playing again after surgery to be
performed by the Pittsburgh Steelers team neurosurgeon. No
timeline for surgery was given.
Joseph Maroon, is experienced in conducting the type of procedure
on professional athletes in contact sports, and is confident of a
full recovery for Finley, the statement said.
return to professional football is a hot-topic conversation, his
ability to live a long and fulfilling life with his loved ones is
by far and away our main objective," the statement said.
Finley and his family said they appreciated the outpouring of
support received since the injury.
Finley was having
good year with 25 catches for 300 yards and three touchdowns when
he was hurt. Finley, who was officially placed on season-ending
injured reserve last week, is a free agent after this year.
Pro Football Talk
first reported the statement Wednesday.