The injury was barely a speed bump on his rookie season, with Matthews starting the final 13 games and notching 10 sacks.
Matthews will have to overcome the same injury this season, with the strained left hamstring sustained during Saturday's scrimmage to keep him out for at least two weeks. The hamstring barely affected his growth into the starting right outside linebacker last season. He hopes it won't affect his ability to play on the left side this season.
"If anything, it hinders me from a personal standpoint — getting better with my pass rush and reading the development of routes and whatnot," Matthews said on Monday. "But for the most part, I felt coming into that scrimmage I was playing some of my best ball, so I know it's not going to take me more than a week to get up to speed as far as physically. I feel real good about myself. If you can take anything away from last year, it's that it's not the end of the world and look to play better than ever."
Matthews has last year's rehab experience to lean on and knows that there's no reason to rush back, like he tried to do last year, causing him to miss a third preseason game. In hopes of preventing the hamstring from becoming an ongoing issue, Matthews said he'll start taking additional preventative steps.
"I did lots of extra work this offseason in getting my legs stronger, bigger and whatnot," Matthews said. "I talked to my father and it's just another thing you have to include in your repertoire, and that's prehabbing, so to speak. For me, obviously, this has been an issue so we're just going to have to take care of it and get after it each and every day, whether you put in the extra time, whether the late hours or whatnot. It's much better to put in the extra time than sitting out roughly two weeks. We'll see how it goes. I don't look to be out too long, and when I come back, I look to make an impact."
With Matthews, Brad Jones and Brandon Chillar would have continued their battle to be the other starter at outside linebacker. Without Matthews, Jones and Chillar alternated between the left and right side with the starters.
Injuries are becoming a major issue. Fourteen players sat out practice, including five of the 11 linebackers, forcing coach Mike McCarthy to cut short practice even though linebacker is one of the deepest positions.
"Yeah, I like our depth on paper, but everything to this point is on paper," McCarthy said.
Out were Brett Swain (knee), Atari Bigby (ankle), Josh Bell (foot sprain), Will Blackmon (knee), Al Harris (knee), James Starks (hamstring), Frank Zombo (ankle), Alex Joseph (quad), Brady Poppinga (concussion), Matthews (hamstring), Nick Barnett (knee), Donald Driver (calf), Andrew Quarless (hamstring) and Ronald Talley (ankle).
Swain, Bell, Joseph and Quarless were injured in the scrimmage. Blackmon said he asked for a couple more days for his surgically repaired knee to get back to full strength. Driver said an MRI turned out fine and he might practice on Tuesday. Quarless said he won't be out for more than a day or two, either. McCarthy said he was just being "smart" with Barnett, and that Swain's injury "was ugly on film" but nothing major.
"I think Will's going to be fine," McCarthy said of Blackmon. "It's just coming off the major knee surgery, going through camp. I'm hopeful he can go tomorrow."
The Family Night Scrimmage was a big hit for the special teams, and that continued at practice. Tim Masthay had two punts of 62 yards along with one of 46. Chris Bryan hit punts of 46, 38 and 57 yards.
Masthay appears to be pulling away from Bryan, regardless of what the coaches say. Part of that is field goals. Mason Crosby hit field goals of 28, 36 and 40 yards from the hold of Masthay on Monday. With Bryan, Crosby missed from 43 (and hit from 43 on a re-do), hit from 45 and missed from 53 (and hit from 53 on the re-do). On the first of Crosby's misses, special teams coordinator Shawn Slocum could be heard telling Bryan to get the ball down. On the second, it appeared the laces were pointing the wrong way.
Crosby's only miss on Saturday came on Bryan's hold, as well.
"Until we decide," general manager Ted Thompson said when asked how long the punting battle will go. "It's hard to say. Sometimes things show themselves pretty fast and sometimes it takes a little bit more time. I think they are both doing a nice job."
— Bryan Bulaga took reps with the No. 1 offense at left guard. He has earned the right to compete for the starting job at guard, McCarthy said, and will remain the top backup to starting left tackle Chad Clifton. We will have a story on that later.
"Those kinds of conversations really haven't gotten going yet," Thompson said. "There are the great fishing expeditions where they just call and say, ‘Do you got anybody that you are looking to move?" Nobody says anything, so we've got to get into that. I think we have got to see some preseason games and then you've got to kind of value where you think you are stronger and where another team might be another stronger. It's got to work for everybody. It's not difficult, but the stars have to align a little bit."
— McCarthy said Bigby's ankle surgery was positive and confirmed the rehab process will be about four weeks.
"You never like to see people come into camp and have something happen or not be there," Thompson said when asked if he was disappointed Bigby didn't have the surgery done before camp. "That's the breaks of the game. You are always disappointed in an injury, whether it happens in a Super Bowl game or the first day of training camp."
— Practice on Tuesday is at 8:45 a.m. (shells) and 6:30 p.m. (pads). There is no practice on Wednesday. There are two practices on Thursday, at the same time and both in pads. There is no public practice on Friday leading up to Saturday night's preseason opener at home against Cleveland.
Agree or disagree?: Discuss hot Packers topics in our, free forums. Leave Bill a question in the subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum.
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 and Facebook under Bill Huber.