GREEN BAY – Clay Matthews won’t be able to come with some knuckles on Sunday. But at least the injured outside linebacker will be able to come to the game.
While the Green Bay Packers aren’t giving up hope of having their four-time Pro Bowler back on the field before season’s end, they are ruling him out for Sunday’s NFC Wild Card playoff game against the San Francisco 49ers at Lambeau Field – and may need to reach Super Bowl XLVIII to get their star pass-rusher back this year.
Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Monday that he had not spoken to Matthews since Matthews underwent surgery to repair his re-broken right thumb, which was injured Dec. 22 against Pittsburgh. Matthews, who originally broke the thumb Oct. 6 and had pins surgically inserted into the thumb that caused him to miss the next four games, did not accompany the team to Chicago after his second surgery last week. The Packers beat the Chicago Bears, 33-28, at Soldier Field Sunday.
After missing four games, Matthews came back to play wearing a bulky club cast on Nov. 10 against Philadelphia. The next week at the New York Giants, he played wearing a more manageable fiberglass cast that allowed him to have his fingers free.
If Matthews were to follow the same timeline – which is far from guaranteed – he would miss at least this week’s playoff game against the 49ers, a possible NFC Divisional Playoff game at Seattle or Carolina, and the NFC Championship Game. The week he would then return would be the week between the conference championship games and the Super Bowl.
“I really don’t have a feel for Clay as far as where he is. I really haven’t even seen him to talk to him,” McCarthy said. “You’re always cautious with players after surgery.
“Right now he’s out for this week and that’s really what we’re focused on.”
Matthews, of course, created a measure of bad blood between the teams when he tackled 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick out of bounds in the teams’ regular-season opening meeting in San Francisco Sept. 8. He was fined $15,000 for the hit, but he later told ESPN.com’s Rob Demovsky that the fine was reduced to $7,500.
After the fight that followed Matthews’ hit, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh suggested that Matthews’ open-handed slap during the melee was improper fighting technique.
Apparently, Harbaugh thought Matthews should have used his fist, as Harbaugh reportedly did when he punched Jim Kelly.
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