It was obvious the “club” severely limited the Packers’ top defensive playmaker throughout the game. Although intimidating looking, having one hand clubbed prevented Matthews from shedding blockers and getting both hands on backs when tackling.
It was clearly not Matthews’ best game. He only recorded two tackles and didn’t have a single pressure. He played a majority of the game against former Packers castoff Allen Barbre and was a complete non-factor. The ability to use both hands freely is essential for a pass rusher to be successful in generating pressure in the NFL.
The Packers defense has been in a bit of a funk over the past two games. Entering a critical point in the season, Green Bay needs their top defensive playmaker back and healthy more than ever.
According to the Green Bay Press Gazette‘s Mike Vandermause, Matthews practiced on Wednesday without the club on his right hand. This would mark Matthews’ first action on the field without the club since returning from the injury.
Matthews wasnt wearing club, standing on sidelines during early part of practice. Neal dressed but also watching from sidelines early on.
— Mike Vandermause (@MikeVandermause) November 13, 2013
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel also reported earlier Wednesday that Matthews was wearing a brace on his right thumb instead, which is much less restrictive than a cast over the entire hand. It’s not clear yet if Matthews will still play with the club on his hand this Sunday, but the fact that Matthews is practicing without the cast is a good sign that he’s close to being back to his old two-handed self.
According to MSJ, the upcoming game against the Giants will be six weeks from the time Matthews injured his thumb, which is the exact time frame specialists say it takes for the bones to heal in a Bennett’s fracture.
This means we are getting closer to seeing a fully functional Clay Matthews on the field. It couldn’t come soon enough. The Packers miss his production in the pass rush. He’s recorded 35.5 sacks over the past three seasons and makes countless plays on the field that impact the game.
Despite the injuries, the Packers defense has still managed 27 sacks this season, which ties them for 11th in the NFL. But only one sack has come from the outside linebackers since Matthews exited in week five.
Mike Neal sat out practice today because of what Coach McCarthy called “bumps and bruises” he’s been dealing with over the course of the season. Andy Mulumba is also coming off an ankle sprain, and Nick Perry re-injured his foot in Sunday’s loss to the Eagles. Neal’s status for this week is up in the air, but it doesn’t look like Perry will be ready to play.
Nate Palmer and a one-handed Matthews could be the Packers only healthy outside linebackers this Sunday. Let’s hope Matthews plays without the club on his hand and looks a little more like the dominant pass rusher we’ve come to know.