Clay Matthews left Sunday’s win against the Detroit Lions early with a fractured thumb. Initially, it was unclear how severe of an injury it was. The Green Bay Packers‘ star pass rusher fractured his thumb when he sacked Matthew Stafford late in the third quarter. Matthews rushed to the locker room and didn’t return in the game.
It is always difficult to predict how much time a player will miss because of a broken thumb. Packer players in the past, like Morgan Burnett, Cullen Jenkins, and Brad Jones, didn’t sit out very long and played with a cast on their hand when they dealt with thumb fractures. However, their fractures weren’t as severe as Matthews’ appears to be.
Players have also missed entire seasons because of a broken thumb. Two years ago Chicago’s Jay Cutler was such a case. Typically, if a player requires surgery to repair the fracture they miss at least 4-6 weeks, and when they return, they have to play with a club on their hand.
The Packers are really hoping this isn’t the case with Matthews, or even something worse.
When asked today in his press conference about the injury, Coach McCarthy said he’s “hopeful it’s not season-ending.”
Even if tests this week reveal Matthew’s injury will not end his season, all indications so far report that the broken thumb is serious and the Packers linebacker could miss a considerable amount of time.
Earlier today ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that surgery is the most likely option and Matthews could be out at least a month.
Packers LB Clay Matthews still is undergoing more testing, but he is expected to miss one month with a broken thumb.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 7, 2013
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel also reported today that surgery seems evident. If Matthews elects to have surgery on the thumb, it is very likely he’ll miss more than a month this season, and when he returns he’ll have to wear a cast on the hand. The thumb could inhibit him all season.
Regardless, of the exact timetable when Matthews returns, this is devastating news for the team’s top pass rusher. Matthews just returned from a hamstring injury, which sidelined him for the second half of the Cincinnati game. Now, he may be a passive observer for at least the next four games.
Up until Sunday the Packers defense struggled to get pressure on the quarterback with Matthews out of the lineup. They definitely don’t want their top defensive playmaker to be out for a considerable amount of time, but they have to feel a little better about the way Mike Neal and Nick Perry stepped up on Sunday in getting to the quarterback.
The Packers will certainly miss Matthews’ production on the field. He has three sacks already this season and has been very active defending the run. The Packers play the Baltimore Ravens, Cleveland Browns, Minnesota Vikings, and Chicago Bears over the next four weeks, and they’ll most likely have to do it with Perry and Neal as their starting outside linebackers.