Matthews' status will affect Vikings' schemes

The Vikings will keep an interested eye on Clay Matthews' status for Sunday's game and they admit his presence will change Minnesota's approach. Plus, more talk on the dropped passes and how they were addressed, injury updates and more.

Mike McCarthy said it might be a "stretch" for star linebacker Clay Matthews to play Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings, but the Vikings will pay attention from afar to the Matthews' progress in the days leading up to the game.

Players have often said they don't game plan for other players, just schemes, but that's not the case with Matthews, according to Vikings offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave.

"It would make a difference. He's a game-changer, for sure. They've moved him this year to play over left tackles rather than right tackles and he's really having an outstanding year," Musgrave said.

Matthews has 40 tackles and a team-leading nine sacks, but he's been inactive the past two games with a hamstring injury.

He is supposed to be re-evaluated Friday after going through a workout Wednesday. Whether he plays or not will have an effect on how Musgrave calls the game.

"It affects the schemes that we'd want to employ to account for him and make sure that he doesn't wreck the game," the offensive coordinator said. "We have our plans that we're ready to adapt based on anybody being able to play physically or not. He's someone that our focus is squarely on."


Despite the Vikings having at least six passes dropped by wide receivers and tight ends against Chicago, Musgrave said it never altered his approach in trying to throw the ball.

"No, and we weren't keeping count at all. We just know that we had to keep plugging, keep churning and try to keep playing better so that we could try to get back into that ballgame," Musgrave said. "That was uncharacteristic for our group of wide receivers. We expect them to bounce back. We had a good practice (Wednesday) and looking forward to getting out on the field and making a lot of improvement in the catching department."

Jerome Simpson was the main culprit, dropping three passes during the game, starting with a drop on the Vikings' second drive. But Musgrave doesn't believe that the culmination of drops started to affect Simpson mentally.

"I don't think anything happened mentally. It was uncharacteristic. We know that. I know he's really excited to get back out and make amends for it," Musgrave said.

"Besides the injury bug and the suspension, there have been some bumps in the road, but he's kept all four tires on the pavement."

Musgrave said Simpson is eager to make amends for the dropped passes and had a "really super day" of practice on Wednesday, the team's first day back on the field this week.

That wasn't the case during the Thursday's portion of practice open to reporters. Simpson dropped two passes during individual drills.

"There are a number of reasons for drops. At times your eyes don't follow it. At times you don't have the right hand placement. Concentration comes into it," Musgrave said. "We try to identify the root of each and every mistake so we can really help our player improve instead of just pointing it out."


  • Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph returned to practice Thursday after missing Wednesday with a shoulder strain. He also suffered a concussion Sunday but was cleared of that earlier in the week.

  • Percy Harvin (ankle) sat out of practice Thursday after being limited on Wednesday.

  • Packers second-round pick Casey Hayward has been a good addition for Green Bay. He leads the team with five interceptions and 18 passes defenses, has a forced fumbled and 35 tackles. "He's an excellent blitzer, has a number of interceptions. He's really proved to be an asset for their team," Musgrave said.

    Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.

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