GREEN BAY – All clubs, it turns out, are not created equal when it comes to creating a cast to protect a player’s still-healing hand.
So while Green Bay Packers four-time Pro Bowl outside linebacker Clay Matthews practiced for the second straight day on Thursday in advance of Sunday’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles, he did so with a different style cast than he’d worn on Wednesday, as the trial-and-error continues while the Packers medical staff tries to protect the right thumb Matthews broke Oct. 6
“(It) looks like he’s getting a little more comfortable. (But) he’s still trying to find the right fit,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said after practice. “A lot of (what style club cast is used) has to do with the injury. The second part (is) the position the player is playing as far as how it fits not only his hand, wrist, the ability to keep it from moving only so far, particularly the techniques he’s going to be using in the game, That may change the design or look of it. I guess that’s why they call it ‘custom.’ It’s custom fit to the individual based on the injury and the technique he’ll be playing.”
Whatever technique Matthews will be playing, he’ll be doing it as the one-armed man. He acknowledged that much Thursday, but after missing the past four games after pins were inserted into the thumb to keep the bones in place as they healed, he believes he’ll be able to play and be effective.
“Obviously it's going to be coach's decision, but you know, I'd like to be out there. As to what extent, I don't know,” Matthews told reporters at his locker Thursday. “I've just got to get used to playing a little more with one hand and obviously being comfortable with throwing it in there. So I'm taking baby steps in coming back to practice yesterday and today, trying to get a few more reps, and become more comfortable throwing it in there when it's live action.
“We'll see. I've been in a cast before for games but not a club, so we'll see come Sunday.”
Asked if the club can in any way be an advantage, Matthews replied: “I feel like in my position, obviously, you need to have great hands, and when you take one away, it definitely hinders your game a little bit. You just try to use it as much as you can (as) a normal hand, sticking it in there and being comfortable with it. I'm more comfortable than I was (Wednesday) but I need to continue to be able to stick it in there a little bit more.”
Matthews admitted he’s worried about just how severely limited he’ll be by the club, since he will have to do more than just whack offensive players with it to be effective.
“I’m worried about the fact that in certain situations I need to be able to hold the edge or fit in a gap, and with one arm, it’s hard to do that,” Matthews said. “I need to be more comfortable throwing it in there, and I will, and it has continued to progress. Hopefully by the time Sunday rolls around it will be as if playing with two hands, just one is clubbed up.”
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