GREEN BAY – Clay Matthews is good to go. And the Green Bay Packers star outside linebacker is hoping he’s past his annual hamstring issue and won’t have to worry about another problem the rest of the year.
“I'll be out there this Sunday,” Matthews said after participating in full in Thursday’s practice, in advance of Sunday’s game against the Detroit Lions at Lambeau Field. “It's feeling good.”
Packers coach Mike McCarthy wasn't quite as definitive, saying that Matthews "looked good" but that he would be evaluated again Friday.
Matthews left the Packers’ pre-bye loss at Cincinnati on Sept. 22 after injuring his right hamstring while forcing his second fumble of the game. Matthews said he felt a twinge in his right hamstring and pulled himself out after feeling it because of his history of hamstring troubles, but that the medical staff and coaching staff also agreed that he should sit out the rest of that game.
Matthews wasn’t sure if he would have played last week had the Packers had a game – “It was a fortuitous bye week, I'll say that,” he said – but isn’t worried about the injury lingering. Last year, Matthews missed four games because of a hamstring injury, after missing one game in 2010 with a hamstring injury and virtually all of the 2009 and 2010 preseasons because of hamstring injuries.
“I think I've become a lot smarter,” Matthews said Wednesday. “Obviously a younger player would have kind have pressed the issue, maybe hurt himself even more so, but I think we're smart with the events that took place in Cincinnati and where we're at now. So fortunately, there will be no time missed. I'm feeling good, so that's that.”
Matthews also emphasized one distinction Wednesday when asked whether his playing time against the Lions, a team which has only given up three sacks this season, will be curtailed in any way.
“I don't think I'm going to have to come off the field. Will I come off the field? Probably,” Matthews said. “I think I need to be smart, not only for me personally coming off the Cincinnati game, but also just the longevity of the season. We're only in Week 4. I thought we were doing a good job of that leading up to the Cincinnati game … So we'll see how it comes but ultimately I plan on being out there and helping this team.”
Matthews acknowledged that there is a mental aspect to his recovery from the injury but pointed to the way he played last year upon his return, when he had at least one sack in each of the Packers’ final five games, including two playoff games.
“I came back after four games last year and how many sacks did I have against Chicago? Two, and then I had one, one and then two and then one (in the next four games). Yeah, I remember those things,” Matthews said with a chuckle. “But you are right, the first part of getting over a hamstring strain is healing, and obviously I can’t control that, but coming back the final hurdle you have to overcome is mentally: Are you comfortable with exerting 100 percent effort or even more?
“I wouldn’t put myself out there if I wasn’t, and obviously that’s this week what we’ve built up to. Coming in on Monday, I felt good. I obviously had to prove to myself and to the coaches that I’m capable of not only being able to run and cut and do everything I need to, but do it at a high level to where it won’t affect this defense. So I feel good about it. I don’t think you’ll see a drop off come Sunday.”
While Matthews wishes he didn’t have annual hamstring problems to overcome, he also said he’s gotten better at knowing how to manage them.
“I’ve come to, not accept it, but to understand the rehab process,” said Matthews, who enters Sunday with 16 tackles, two sacks and two forced fumbles according to the Packers’ official defensive statistics and two QB hits and three hurries per Pro Football Focus. “I think a younger Clay thought the world was over (after getting hurt) and I was going to be cut the next day and I’m not living up to the billing. But I just got to get healthy. It’s part of the deal.
“When I come back, I’m going to be the same player that I’ve been for the past several years. I wish we all had an answer for it, but I’ll come back and I’ll make the plays that I do.”
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There are no games scheduled for today.
There are no games scheduled for today.