Clay Matthews returned from a three-game absence last week.
Matthews hopes to return to a more Matthews-like form on Monday night at Philadelphia.
“It’s difficult coming off of a strain of any muscle because you’re always feeling yourself out,” Matthews said on Friday. “You never feel like you can really cut it loose until you get that first game under your belt. It’s no different than the Giants game earlier in the season. When you’re accustomed to playing a certain way, it’s difficult, especially when you lose in that manner. I feel a lot better in practice. You just have more confidence in yourself to really cut it loose, and I feel like this week I should be able to open up a little more and do things I’m accustomed to doing.”
In 56 snaps against the Redskins on Sunday night, Matthews recorded zero tackles, according to the coaches’ tally. That’s actually worse than the one tackle Matthews was credited for in the official game stats.
“That’s a very good assessment by him and I would agree with him 100 percent,” linebackers coach Winston Moss said. “I think the mind and the will might have been willing and wanted to do in so many ways, but this is pro football vs. a very good team. To be able to get back into the flow, sometimes it might not be as easy as you think. We’re definitely grinding, we’re working hard and we’re looking forward to him getting back to his old playmaking self.”
The Packers suffered without Matthews. In his four games on the sideline, they allowed 34.5 points per game. He didn’t provide enough help in last week’s loss to Washington, with the Redskins piling up 42 points and more than 500 yards.
“When you have player with Clay’s ability and he’s not in there, the defense doesn’t benefit,” Moss said. “When he’s in there, he’s definitely shown that he can be an impact player. He’s a game changer.”
Barring another injury — and with the way this season has gone, you never can rule out another injury — it appears Matthews will line up at outside linebacker against Philadelphia. While Blake Martinez is out with a knee sprain, Jake Ryan will return to the starting lineup after missing all but one special-teams snap the last two weeks. That means Ryan figures to pair with Joe Thomas as the starting tandem at inside linebacker.
Matthews, however, will be ready.
“The coaches made sure, especially how thin it is at that position, to be ready and to be available,” Matthews said. “I’ve taken a look at the playbook and make sure, if they throw me inside, I’ll be ready. So, we’ll see what that means moving forward. But, as you guys saw, what I’m going through in practice is strictly outside. But we’ll see what that means moving forward.”
Bill Huber is publisher of 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 www.twitter.com/PackerReport.