Matthews on Comeback Trail

Clay Matthews had the pins removed from his surgically repaired broken thumb last week, he told

Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews had the pins removed from his surgically repaired right thumb last week, he told's Ross Jones.

Matthews broke the thumb twice this season — when sacking Detroit's Matthew Stafford in Week 5 and when sacking Pittsburgh's Ben Roethilsberger in Week 16. He missed four games with the first injury and the season finale and playoff game after the second break.

"I need to get healthy," Matthews said. "Rehab my thumb and get it back to 100 percent so that way there is no setback starting next season."

He led the team with 7.5 sacks and 25 quarterback hits, even while missing five games and being a total nonfactor against Philadelphia when he returned to the lineup after a four-game absence. He matched his career high with three forced fumbles.

Strangely, the Packers were 4-2 (including playoffs) when Matthews was sidelined.

The thumb was immobilized after the second surgery. Now, he's focusing on strengthening the digit and regaining its range of motion.

"Little exercises as far as finger mobility," Matthews said. "I have a physical therapist who helps with loosening up those joints because it was immobilized for so long. A lot of those ligaments and tendons become real stiff along with the surgery."

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