After being limited to one practice, at most, in recent weeks because of an injured quadriceps, Matthews was a limited participant at practice on Wednesday and Thursday.
"I know Clay feels a lot better this week than he did in the Minnesota game, and the Minnesota game was the best he felt since the opener," coach Mike McCarthy said on Thursday. "I thought he did well at practice today, just watching him fly around."
Matthews, in fact, has barely practiced for much of his two-and-a-half seasons with the Packers due to injuries to his hamstring, quad and shin. But he's answered the call on Sundays, with just one missed game in his career.
"I think if you look at the body of work and what they ask of us — we went through like five outside linebackers last year," he said. "The fact is I'm out there each and every Sunday. There may be nicks and bruises along the way, but I think it's just a very physically demanding position and it's going to test your health."
Matthews, whose sack total of 17 in his first 20 career games ranked first in NFL history, finished fourth in the NFL with 13.5 last season. He has just three in the first seven games of this season, though he had one in each of the two games before the bye.
"Of course I'd love to have more sacks," Matthews said. "Obviously, that's what generally the media and the public are going to judge my game on. But the people who matter, on this defense, understand what I bring to the table and what I have been bringing for the past seven weeks, and that's to put constant pressure on the quarterback, stop the run and do what my job entails. And I believe I've been doing that at a high level."
Rodgers wins player of month
Aaron Rodgers joined Barry Sanders as the only players to win Player of the Month in three consecutive months. The NFL bestowed the honor on Rodgers after leading Green Bay to a 4-0 record in October. He completed 71.3 percent of his passes for 1,455 yards, with 12 touchdowns, two interceptions and a passer rating of 129.4.
"I think he's playing well and I think he's playing better than any quarterback that's playing the game today," receiver Donald Driver said. "You have to take your hat off to him because this guy hasn't made the mistakes that most quarterbacks will make. Aaron's one of those quarterbacks that's going to take what they give you. That's truly a blessing. You don't find too many guys that do that. Guys come into the National Football League feeling like they have to prove something. He has nothing else to prove. He feels he can get better and better each week, and that's what he's doing."
Rodgers won in December 2010 and September and October of this year. Sanders won in October, November and December in 1997.
Packers injury report
Out — LT Chad Clifton (hamstring/knee); DE Mike Neal (knee). Limited participation — OLB Clay Matthews (quad); G Josh Sitton (knee). Full participation — S Morgan Burnett (hand); OLB Jamari Lattimore (shoulder); CB Sam Shields (concussion); OLB Frank Zombo (knee).
The injury report was identical to Wednesday's.
Chargers injury report
Did not participate — DE Luis Castillo (tibia); RB Curtis Brinkley (concussion); G Kris Dielman (concussion); LB Na'il Diggs (knee); WR Malcom Floyd (hip); TE Antonio Gates (not injury related); RB Ryan Matthews (groin); LB Shaun Phillips (foot). Limited — G Tyronne Green (hand). Full — WR Vincent Jackson (hamstring); Michael Tolbert (hamstring).
On Wednesday, eight players were held out of practice. On thursday, Green went from did not participate to limited and Jackson went from did not participate to full.
"I don't put a lot of stock in their medical report yesterday," McCarthy said. "History will tell you coming off a Monday night game, it won't surprise you. Today's report might be a little more indicative of where they are from a health standpoint."
— Nick Collins said he no longer has to wear a neck brace and has been pain-free since a couple days after having neck fusion surgery on Sept. 29. "I'm free. I'm a free man. I'm out of prison," he said of ditching the brace. We'll have more on Collins on Friday as we talk to safeties coach Darren Perry about Collins' player-coach role.
— Rodgers doesn't want to hear about the MVP talk. "It's Week 9. We're going into Week 9. I think we're a long way from any of those awards or anything. We always talk about, if we take care of the team goals, then the individual goals kind of follow."
— With Rodgers, tight end Jermichael Finley and the five receivers on the cover of Sports Illustrated, guard T.J. Lang lamented that the linemen never get any love. "He's right," receiver James Jones said. "Offensive linemen do not get as much credit as they deserve. The guys catching touchdowns and throwing touchdowns usually get all the credit but it ain't possible with them. We aren't on the cover without them, and they know we love them. But it's cool. As a little kid, you see Sports Illustrated and now you're on the cover. It's great."
— The Packers are 13-5 favorites to win the Super Bowl, according to odds provided by Bodog.com. New England is next at 6-1, followed by Pittsburgh at 9-1, with Philadelphia, New Orleans and Baltimore at 12-1, and San Francisco 15-1. With the Steelers getting back on track, a Super Bowl rematch is listed at 8-1.
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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 email@example.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.