Matthews Eager To Face Bears Again

Clay Matthews, who has had big games against Chicago, missed both games last season with his twice-broken broken thumb. (Mike DiNovo/USA TODAY)

Playing a road game against a division rival raises the intensity for linebacker Clay Matthews.

"They're fun games to play, and I think more so just talking from the fan aspect of it - the fans hate you," Matthews said Friday. "That's something to thrive on when you play on the road."

After missing Green Bay's two games against the Chicago Bears last season, the Packers' defensive standout anticipates playing Sunday when the NFL's oldest rivals meet for the first time this season.

Matthews, who has a groin injury, is probable for the game against the Bears.

"Provided there's no setbacks, I expect myself to be out there on Sunday," Matthews said.

Matthews has practiced on a limited basis this week after suffering the injury in the second half of the Packers' 19-7 loss at Detroit last Sunday. Matthews didn't finish the game.

The Packers didn't practice Friday. But coach Mike McCarthy had encouraging news after the team's medical staff evaluated Matthews on Friday morning.

"So far, so good," McCarthy said. "The medical review, the report today was good on Clay. We still have 48 hours (before the game), so we're confident that he'll be ready to go. But he's still working through it."

Matthews reported to be feeling good and noted how his recovery from his first groin injury improved throughout the week.

"Yesterday was a big step in the right direction from Wednesday," Matthews said of his involvement in practice those two days, "and today I'm sure would have been."

McCarthy implemented a new schedule this season with the Packers off the field on Friday before a Sunday game, but having a light practice on Saturday.

"I think it's good for me," Matthews said. "And then tomorrow we'll fly around, break a sweat and feel good going into Sunday. I don't anticipate there being any problems."

Having Matthews ready for Sunday should be a plus for Green Bay, which is looking to avoid starting the season 1-3 for the first time since 2006, when it finished 8-8 in McCarthy's first year at the helm.

Matthews has hurt the Bears as a pass rusher in his career. He has eight sacks in nine games against Chicago since his rookie season in 2009, including the Packers' NFC championship victory at Soldier Field in the 2010 season.

In the rivals' two games in 2012, Matthews had 5 1/2 sacks against Bears quarterback Jay Cutler as Green Bay swept the season series.

A broken thumb kept Matthews from playing both games against the Bears the second half of last season.

Matthews said he was at home watching Green Bay end the regular season with a dramatic 33-28 comeback win at Chicago on a final-minute, fourth down touchdown pass by Aaron Rodgers. The Packers clinched a third straight NFC North title and took a playoff spot from the Bears.

Matthews expects to be able to play without limitations Sunday against a versatile Bears offense he ranks as Chicago's best in his six years as a pro.

"It'll be good to get out there again, kind of put my foot back into that whole Packers-Bears rivalry and just make an impact, really," Matthews said.


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