Notebook: Injury Impacts Matthews

Because Clay Matthews can't practice, he's relying more on film to get ready for games. Plus, the Packers still have high hopes for T.J. Lang, Mike McCarthy leaves nothing to chance on offense, and more from Friday.

Clay Matthews no longer is practicing because of his injured shin, but Green Bay Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers didn't see a correlation between the injury and Matthews' decreased production.

In his last two games, Matthews has just one sack — when he touched down Brett Favre when Favre scrambled away from Cullen Jenkins' pressure and slid to the turf. He never got close to putting pressure on the Falcons' Matt Ryan last week.

"I don't know that that's the case," Capers said on Friday. "We'd like to have him out there. I don't know. He's a guy that I think can still go play at a high level and we expect him to play at a high level and I think he has been. You aren't going to make two, three sacks every game. There's some games — let's say for example last week — we got two sacks but that was against a team that had only been sacked 15 times in 10 games. A lot of that starts with the quarterback, because certain quarterbacks aren't going to throw interceptions. They'll hold the ball. Other quarterbacks, that ball's out of their hands. They aren't going to let you sack them very much."

Matthews' participation for the rest of the season will be limited to the opening jog-through, in which defensive players jog through the opponent's plays. To make up for the lack of live reps, Matthews said he's watching more film and spending more time in meetings, just like he did early in the season, when he was being nursed through an ailing hamstring.

"It's tough (to miss practice)," Matthews said. "But, aside from missing time and seeing things develop, Sundays is really when it counts. If I'm doing everything to get healthy for Sunday, then that's all that matters."

Turning back the clocks

The Packers are wearing uniforms honoring the 1929 championship team on Sunday against San Francisco, and coach Mike McCarthy is leaving nothing to chance.

The offense, which always wears white jerseys at practice, put on the blue-and-tan uniforms on Friday morning.

"Frankly, I really put the blue ones on the offensive players, and that's just the old quarterback coach philosophy, just make sure the quarterbacks are throwing to blue jerseys at least once this week before the game," McCarthy said matter-of-factly. "That's really the only reason why we wore the blue jerseys at practice today."

On Thursday, Donald Driver wasn't so sure how the blue tops, tan pants and brown helmet would look together. But wearing them on Friday, he had a different fashion review.

"You play terrible when you look bad," Driver said, "but I think these are good."

Echoed running back Brandon Jackson: "You look good, you play good, then you win — you win big. You don't want to go out there looking stanky and not put up the points."

Still high on Lang

When Mark Tauscher was lost for the season in Week 4 with a shoulder injury, the Packers inserted rookie first-round pick Bryan Bulaga.

In fact, the Packers barely considered giving T.J. Lang a chance, even though he acquitted himself well in three starts (two at left tackle, one at right tackle) last year as a rookie.

Lang was expected to push Tauscher for the starting job this past summer but a wrist injury required surgery in April, and he was never able to shake off the rust from an offseason away from on-the-field activities. While Lang has been inactive for four games and has only played sparingly on offense and even occasionally on defense in short-yardage situations, he remains very much in the team's plans.

"I think T.J. is ready," McCarthy said. "If training camp began today, he'd be pushing for a spot. I think he had a little bit of a setback with that wrist injury and the amount of time he missed in the spring and going into training camp, but I like what I see in T.J. Lang."

Packers injury report

Out: CB Pat Lee (ankle). Doubtful: S Atari Bigby (hamstring); S Anthony Smith (ankle). Probable: T Bryan Bulaga (ankle); T Chad Clifton (knee); S Nick Collins (shoulder); DE Cullen Jenkins (calf); WR Greg Jennings (foot); LB Clay Matthews (shin); RB Dimitri Nance (concussion); DE Ryan Pickett (ankle); CB Charles Woodson (toe).

Bulaga was added after injuring the ankle at the end of Thursday's practice. Bulaga went through one-on-one drills on Friday before leaving to get treatment. McCarthy said he wasn't concerned about the rookie's availability for the game.

49ers injury report

Out: K Joe Nedney (knee); T Joe Staley (fibula). Doubtful: CB William James (concussion). Questionable: C David Baas (concussion); LB Parys Haralson (ankle); CB Shawntae Spencer (quad). Probable: WR Josh Morgan (shoulder); RB Brian Westbrook (ankle).

Four-point stance

— Because of the injuries to Bigby and Smith, Brandon Underwood has been moved — at least temporarily — to safety. Underwood was drafted as a cornerback and spent his first season-and-a-half there but was an all-Big East safety as a senior at Cincinnati.

— Last week, Matthews played one of his dad's former teams, the Falcons. This week, he'll play one of his grandpa's former teams, the 49ers. "My grandpa did play for them but I had the pleasure of playing at Cleveland, playing at Atlanta, which was fun for me, especially because I visited them. I was never really familiar with San Francisco so it's just another game."

— Without Brandon Chillar, who will be the in-case-of-emergency third inside linebacker? "We've got (Robert) Francois and (Matt) Wilhelm," Capers said. "We've worked both of them this week. We think they're both capable of stepping in if we have to. We've gone through this exercise before."

— We broke the news that James Starks will make his NFL debut on Sunday. Nance has been cleared to play but didn't think he'd be active. "Yeah, I think it's just a safety issue. I am fine, but I guess they just want to make sure I'm 100 percent safe. I can understand that. I'm just going to continue to play my role."


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.


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