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The Packers Injury Game

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The Packers Injury Game

When Packers coach Mike McCarthy addressed the media on Monday, he sounded ominous in regards to Clay Matthews’s injury, but did not give specifics, merely referencing that Matthews was at an appointment and we’d all know more later.

The Packers are guarded with their injury information. Have been for a while, so even when McCarthy was asked about Robert Francois, who ruptured his Achilles in Sunday’s victory, McCarthy brushed it off saying Ted Thompson would have information later.

The takeaway from McCarthy in regards to Matthews was that the hands are complicated and they weren’t really sure the extent of the damage. It didn’t sound good.

So while the Packers official stance was “we’ll know more later”, NFL reporters were breaking news with timelines and injury specifics. Adam Schefter tweeted shortly after McCarthy gave no specifics that Matthews initial timeline was about a month.

With any injury “announcement” there’s reaction. The crowd that can’t believe a broken thumb would sideline a football player for any time, and the crowd that trusts the medical staff to make the best decisions. The truth though lies in neither crowd, and the Packers perpetuate these problems.

At the time of Schefter’s scoop, the Packers had – and at time of writing this they still haven’t – released any official word on Matthew’s injury. Not a doctor, this is all speculation, but a clean break of the tip of the thumb must heal differently than completely dislocating the thumb from the rest of the fingers.

So anyone hearing “broken thumb” and thinking small, non-complicated break that can heal with tape, stabilization and a club, is natural and justified in a reaction calling for Matthews to play. And anyone hearing “broken thumb” and thinking of a completely shattered bone, is equally natural and justified and thinking that healing from this injury is going to take some time.

But the Packers remained silent.

A couple of hours later, Jay Glazer tweeted

He followed it up with detailed information about the injury. Matthews injury is called a Bennett fracture and required pins to stabilize the thumb. The pins can come out in four weeks, making Schefter’s month timeline seem improbable.

But the Packers remained silent.

Trusting Glazer, Clay Matthews’s injury was severe and now has pins in his hand to help reconnect his thumb to the rest of his hand. But with no official word from the Packers, no detailed explanation of a Bennett injury or healing process for someone with pins in their hand, fans are only left to speculate.

The “put a club” on it crew remains. And they’re not wrong. One can argue that playing with the injury risks pin movement which could shred surrounding tissue and disrupt the healing placement of the thumb that the injury could result in permanent hand damage and lack of grip and motion, but reading a Wikipedia entry does not make someone a medical doctor.

The Packers could solve all fan discussions, name calling, arguing and doubts, if they simply opened up more. Come out today, announce the surgery and details, why it was the chosen option and move on. Then any calls for Matthews to toughen up or for other fans to shut up would at least be founded on some sort of factual basis.

But that’s not the Packers way. And that’s not the fans’ way either.

So, unless the Packers choose to break with tradition or place Matthews on the IR designated to return list, fans will sit and wonder exactly how long Matthews will be out.

The Packers next five games (using the Glazer hinted timeline of four weeks till removal of pins and quick one week to heal) are at Baltimore, home against the Browns, at Minnesota and then the Bears and Eagles at Lambeau. None of these teams are offensive juggernauts but Matthews will definitely be missed when the Packers try to contain Ray Rice and the Ravens and Adrian Peterson and the Vikings in their home stadiums.

Mike Neal has impressed since his switch to linebacker, and could play a key role in Matthews’s absence. But with additional injuries to the linebacking corps, the Packers may have to make some moves to get through the games without Matthews. Although at this point, all this is speculation because according to the Packers, Clay Matthews is still at his doctor’s appointment.

Jayme Snowden is a feature writer at CheeseheadTV and a contributor to Today’s TMJ4. She also co-hosts CheeseheadRadio, part of the Packers Talk Radio Network at You can contact her via twitter at @jaymelee1 or email at [email protected].

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (29) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

RC Packer Fan's picture

I really wish the NFL would allow teams to have more options for injured players other then the 6 week IR designated for return, for 1 player only.

I really wish there was a 4 game option. Possibly put a limited number of players that could be put on that at a time or number of players that can be used during the season, but it would be nice.

Think of the Packers so far this season. Casey Hayward has now missed 4 games and 5 weeks. Mathews will be out for at least 4 games. Burnett was out 4 weeks.
Wouldn't it have been nice if the Packers could have put these players on a short term injured reserve, and brought up other players to fill that void?

IMO, I feel the NFL is handicapping teams from being able to sign players for relief during these periods of time. In today's game more players get injured. It would be nice if the rules allowed teams to be able to sign players when theirs are injured.

Idiot Fan's picture

I totally agree. I also don't understand why you can't have all 53 players active on Sundays.

Mojo's picture

I've heard of a couple different reasons why you can only use 46, and whether they're behind the rule, I don't really know. One was the seven inactives approximates what teams have in injuries at any one time and therefore if a team is injury free, to make it "fair" they need to deactivate those seven players.

Another reason was it allows too much specialization:, bringing in players suited for certain roles that the other teams just can't anticipate and prepare for.

Someone also suggested that the teams are reluctant to give all 53 on the roster much more playing time because the "regulars" would still get paid what they already are, but the players normally inactive will demand more $'s eventually.

Personally I wouldn't mind all roster players to be active, especially if you get multiple injuries at the same position. This would reward teams that have built up depth throughout their roster. If that's the case you should be rewarded for better than average player procurement. Which brings me to possibly another reason. Teams with depth are brought closer to the level of their lesser opponents. And the NFL loves parity.

JJB's picture

I still think a NFL roster should be at 55 to 57 players.

Mike's picture

60. But yeah - 53 became too low once the 2000s came around and you first saw 250+ guys legitimately running 4.5 or less

Marlow's picture

Though I, too, would like to know the extent of Clay's injury and exactly when he might return, perhaps no one knows how long the healing process will be at this time. People heal at different rates with the same injury. If the Packers are keeping us guessing, they are also keeping the opposing teams guessing as to when Matthews might return.

Whatever happens, the back-ups will have to play well,and they've given some promise of doing so.

Rest and get well, Clay. We'll leave the light on for you.

C's picture

Are there NFL franchises out there that are forthcoming about injuries? I'm not aware of them. That's not condescension towards your premise either, I've really not seen it.

Derek in CO's picture

that would have too big an impact on Vegas. I think the NFL tells teams to be discreet.

Stroh's picture

Its in teams best interests to be quiet. Knowledge is power in life and the NFL. Why tell other teams exactly to what extent their players are injured? It gives the other teams a competitive advantage. Schlereth even acknowledges that in piles players take shots at injuries to other players. Make them hurt more, more sore less productive. Makes no sense to tell the world about each injury to every players and the extent of the injury.

Jayme Snowden's picture

The initial injury reporting was done in part to prevent fixing games and betting. The NFL wanted the public to have full knowledge of who would play, etc. so Vegas/bookies couldn't pup up a game as a sure thing and then have a key player sit out, etc.
I get what Stroh is saying about vagueness helping, esp in piles and such, but I really don't understand why we can't be told he had surgery. Plus, with the way agents and people talk, it gets out anyways.
But more so than me thinking they "owe" us the information, I just found the way it all played out very interesting. I specifically never said that the Packers needed to tell us anything, I just said their lack of detail can cause the kind of fan statements that I saw yesterday and today.

Jamie's picture

I know part of MM's reasoning for not always divulging the specific status for the more severely injured players (i.e. needs surgery, had surgery, etc.) is he is respecting the privacy of the player.

He's said numerous times in his PCs that the questioning reporter would need to ask the player...implying that he (or team) is not preventing the info from getting out, but that he doesn't feel like it's his place to share it with the public.

I completely understand the reasoning there, and to be honest I don't mind not knowing for even the slightest of competitive reasons. The immediate gratification of social media and round the clock reporting has spoiled many, and I just find that to expect an organization to release this type if information is a bit (or maybe a lot) selfish.

MLecl0001's picture

Honestly it is my belief that the only thing that teams "owe" fans is putting a good product on the field and winning.

Derek in CO's picture

found this image of Bennett fracture.
or just google it. he'll be out as long as pins are in it, I would have to think

Marlow's picture

Thank you for the image of the injury. I can see now why it's a lot more complicated than just a simple break in the thumb bone. At least this injury shouldn't keep him from staying in shape generally so that he will be able to play well when he does return.

Norman's picture

Wow, right at the pivot point at the base of the thumb, I can see why it would take awhile to heal. Hopefully he can get some of the steroids AD took to heal from his ACL.

Stroh's picture

That's exactly what my broken thumb was diagnosed as. Base of the metacarpal of the thumb.

Jamie's picture

Dang man, watch where you're sittin'. ;)

Idiot Fan's picture

As a side note, I'm looking forward to the day when science creates titanium knee replacements that have a full 360-degree range of motion, plus some Flubber-like substance to replace hamstrings. Packers are going to be SO awesome when that happens.

A-rodg's Mustache's picture

I have twice gotten the same injury playing basketball and the healing took the requisite 4 weeks, but I will say the pain afterwords lasted MUCH longer. Like 3 months. Honestly I still feel it when I get fouled hard on my shooting hand. Not a lot of swelling associated with the break, which explains the quick surgery but it takes a while to heal and have any grip strength.
Get well soon CMIII. We need ya!
Next man up!

Mike's picture

Dang...thanks for the inside info. Then again, Clay is the dude who played half a season and the playoffs on a stress fractured shin, so at least we know his pain tolerance is plenty good

Worldstab's picture

I actually don't think Matthews will be missed much vs. Ravens and Vikes. The other LBs are better vs. run anyway, so we might be better off containing Rice and AP. As long as he gets back by Thanksgiving, I think we'll be ok.

Mike's picture

Won't say better, but I agree with your premise. The key to beating Minny and Baltimore is to keep their pass game from beating us. Each team really has one proven pass weapon due to injuries (Baltimore) or youth/trade (Minny). Having Burnett back really helps. It'd be great to see Hayward back soon. Guess we'll know more on that front tomorrow or Thursday

PackerPete's picture

I really have to chuckle. Don't have any issue with how the Packers handled this, and whether or not they'd communicate about long-term player injuries.

Let's review the timeline here: The injury happened on the last play of the 3rd quarter, so that was about 2:30 PM Sunday. They showed a few minutes later on TV how he was jogging to the locker room, and we got the update that he didn't return to the game. Sunday night was the confirmation that he had a fracture, Monday was the speculation that he'd be out 4 weeks. No word from the Packers yet, but this morning at 7:30 AM I read that it was a Bennett fracture (it may have been out earlier, that's just the earliest I even looked for it). Ok, so 41 hours after the injury happened we now know what exactly the injury is and that he had a successful surgery already . Whether that comes from Packers or not is immaterial to me.

But, is it really that hard for fans to wait and see what exactly the extent of the injury is? I know we live in the age of social media and so-called "smartphones", and everybody wants to know everything just with the click of a button (or touchscreen). Yet, no fan had any influence on how the injury happened. No fan will have any influence on how long the healing process is. Why should the Packers put the information out as soon as it is available? Just to mute or influence fan reactions? Really? I don't understand that argument.

There will always be fans who claim to be "old school", and that in their good old days everything was better and one would just walk off an injury or club it up and go back in, but reality is anybody who has ever been playing sports on a somewhat competitive level knows that injuries can be very painful and sometimes make it impossible to perform even the most basic moves for that sport. Since Clay has to use his hands extensively it would be impossible for him to play with this. And why would it be a "problem" that there may be 2 different fan groups, the ones that think just put tape over it and play, and the ones who think that it would take some time to heal? Where's the "problem"?

But coming back to my original point, what would it matter if we had known this injury extent let's say yesterday at this time vs this morning at 7:30, and does it matter whether the Packers communicated or whether we got that from Glazer or whoever? It's the job of journalists to provide information. It's McCarthy's job to coach. I am not aware of any coach or GM or official of any pro team in any sports providing a detailed information as to what exactly the injury is, what the healing process is etc. All that happens is that a particular player is out, there is a guess as to when he might start practicing again, and then there is reporting when he started practicing and it's reflected on the injury report. I have no problem with that process whatsoever.

Next game is on Sunday @Ravens. Next man up.

RC Packer Fan's picture

how long did it take to type that? damn dude...

PackerPete's picture

i got nothing better to do lol

RC Packer Fan's picture

lol. no problem. I just ran out of time to read it earlier...

Fi crane's picture

That's a three deuce post

PackerPete's picture

no prob :) to summarize, all I wanted to point out is that we knew about 1.5 days after the injury happened what it was and how severe. Whether that comes from the Packers or not really doesn't matter to me. McCarthy's job is coaching and not having to worry about whether there are 2 different fan groups, one with the "old school just tape it up and play" and the other with the "let's wait and see the severity of the injury" approach. There is no "problem" here. Do we really want MM to having to worry about fan reactions, or preparing the team to play the Ravens? I prefer the preparation...

Bob's picture

Where are the transplants tonight??

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