Reports coming out from Packers practice on Wednesday were that linebacker Clay Matthews was not participating, obviously a disappointment given that he’s the best Packers defensive player.
Reporters are only allowed to watch a small portion of each Packers practice, however. So when the team issued its daily injury report later in the afternoon, Matthews was listed as a limited participant.
“I think Clay’s getting better,” said head coach Mike McCarthy. “He’s made a lot of progress since coming off the field in Cincinnati. But I’m hopeful that he’ll be able to do more tomorrow. That’s the plan.”
Matthews was originally hurt in the Packers last game in Week 3 against the Bengals, missing the entire second half of the ball game.
After the game, Matthews expressed optimism that he would not miss a lengthy amount of time. He missed four full games and part of another last season with a hamstring pull, an almost annual occurrence for the outside linebacker.
Despite having an entire week off for the bye, Matthews was withheld from practice on Monday, but he appears to have made sufficient progress over the past 48 hours to take part in practice at least in some capacity.
It will be telling how much Matthews is able to take part in the Packers’ practice sessions on Thursday and Friday as they get prepared for this upcoming weekend’s game against the Detroit Lions.
If Matthews isn’t available on Sunday, the Packers would have to rely on a heavier dose of Mike Neal and Nick Perry at the position. The two have been rotating in certain packages through the first three games of the season.
“I think what we’re doing with Mike Neal is we’re doing the right thing for him, and it’s really helped us defensively,” said McCarthy. “I refer to it as an ‘Elephant’ position. It’s not the traditional ‘Elephant’ position, but the ability to move as an interior lineman, defensive end and outside linebacker, so he’s playing three different positions. I think it’s utilizing Mike’s skills, and I’m very happy with how he’s performed. You could really see it from the first day. He was excited about the opportunity.”
The bye week has generally helped all the players with hamstring issues on the Packers roster.
Morgan Burnett, John Kuhn and Jarrett Bush, all of whom missed the Packers’ previous game with hamstring pulls of their own, were able to be full participants in Wednesday’s practice.
Only Casey Hayward remains sidelined by the hamstring injury he aggravated in the preseason. McCarthy would not give a timeline for Hayward’s return.