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Tuesday, October 8, 2013 5:05:17 AM(UTC)
Jason Wilde said:
GREEN BAY — Although it would be a gross oversimplification to say that the Green Bay Packers didn't miss Clay Matthews last season just because they went 3-1 in the four games he missed with a pulled hamstring, the world did not in fact end, either.
So while it's incredibly inconvenient — to use one of coach Mike McCarthy's favorite words — that Matthews will apparently miss at least a month, and probably more, after undergoing surgery Monday to repair his fractured thumb, the Packers could survive without him if Mike Neal and Nick Perry play the way they did during Sunday's 22-9 victory over the Detroit Lions.
Neal, who has been playing both outside linebacker and defensive end after shedding some 20 pounds in the offseason to become a hybrid player, finished with a sack and six tackles and had what coach Mike McCarthy called "one of Mike's better performances in his career." Perry, the team's 2012 first-round pick last year, finished with two sacks and five tackles.
Perry, who suffered a wrist injury in last year's season opener and played six games before undergoing surgery that ended his season, was actually replaced in the starting lineup by Neal Sunday. Now, they'll both start at defending Super Bowl-champion Baltimore this week.
"I think you saw him play his best game yesterday, I think you saw Nick Perry play his best game yesterday," defensive coordinator Dom Capers said. "Not knowing (Matthews') status and what's going to go on there, we need for Mike Neal and Nick Perry to be ready to play next week the way they played this week. Because they played their best football this week."
When Matthews suffered a hamstring injury last Nov. 4 against Arizona, he missed the next four games: at Detroit, at the New York Giants, at home against Minnesota and at home against the Lions. With Perry already on injured reserve at that point, the Packers started undrafted rookie free agent Dezman Moses and veteran Erik Walden at outside linebacker. Walden had two sacks and Moses one in the Packers victory in Detroit, and Moses had another sack the following week in their loss to the Giants. They were credited with a combined 13 quarterback hits during those four games.
After Perry and Neal, the Packers have undrafted rookie free agent Andy Mulumba and sixth-round pick Nate Palmer.
"I guess when a guy gets to his second year, you say he's a veteran around here, but we have guys that have experience, played games for us," McCarthy said of Neal and Perry, who have a combined 37 games of NFL experience between them. "I thought Andy did some good things even on the special teams, (and) we've got our young guy Palmer, he'll get an opportunity. So we feel good."
Tuesday, October 8, 2013 10:17:49 AM(UTC)
Personally and honestly.. Matthews being down may be a blessing in disguise, prior to last Sunday we were missing an element in the pass rush from the edge. With Matthews down.. it is going to force Capers, Greene and the backers on the field to adjust to him being down.
Guys are going to have to step up.. and the scheme is going to have to adjust to assist in this process in place of just hoping Matthews beats a double team from the edge.
I trust that they are going to gain some confidence and the coaching staff may learn a couple things that we can leverage later in the season.
Good thing with had exceptional depth in the line backing corp though.. it will be tested.
And I think the silver lining is we will become better overall late in the season for it.
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