Matthews Still Recovering From Injury All Green Bay Packers All the Time
Clay Matthews
Matthews says he will be ready for training camp. The Packers hope he’s right.

A recent conversation between Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews and USA Today’s Tom Pelissero revealed that Matthews is still not 100% healed from a repeat thumb injury suffered late in the 2013 season.  ESPN’s Rob Demovsky featured the conversation in a recent article at

Matthews explained, in more detail, what happened with each injury and how doctors chose to address the second break in December.  Here is an excerpt:

“And unfortunately, on a sack of Roethlisberger, the tip of my thumb [hit] my teammate’s helmet. All that pressure went down the cast, broke it again. So then, to make it tighter, we took part of the tendon, turned it around, drilled some holes and they almost tied a knot through. It’s stronger than [the left one]. Now it’s super tight.”

The Packers defense is just not the same without Matthews on the field.  Since appearing in at least 15 games in his first three seasons, Matthews has missed 11 games over the past two years, including last season’s wild card playoff game against the San Francisco 49ers.  Had the Packers advanced and made a serious push for a Super Bowl appearance, Matthews may have returned and played.

It still bears mentioning that a player who plays with the type of intensity as Matthews does is likely to be more vulnerable to injury.  Although Matthews says he will be ready by training camp, everyone heals differently.  The thumb can be a tricky injury with all of the bones and tendons connected to both the hand, wrist and arm.

Matthews should be able to make a return but even if he does and based on averages, he will likely miss some time this upcoming season for whatever reason.  The Packers need to prepare accordingly at the outside linebacker position.  With a healthy Matthews and Nick Perry, the possibilities are many and scary for opposing offenses.  But the “healthy” part has not come easy in the two seasons that tandem has existed.  They have appeared together in just 14 games over those two years.

While many are talking about the Packers’ need at safety, inside linebacker, tight end and wide receiver, outside linebacker can easily be added to that list as well.  Behind Matthews and Perry on the current roster are Andy Mulumba, Mike Neal and Nate Palmer.  Neal was adequate as a fill-in while Matthews and Perry were hurt last season, but still wasn’t very productive by himself  Neal sprinkled five sacks throughout the season, with no more than one in any single game.  Mulumba and Palmer produced very modest results.

I wouldn’t expect Green Bay to take an outside linebacker too early in next month’s draft, but with general manager Ted Thompson, anything is possible.  I would expect at least one of their selections (the Packers currently hold nine draft slots) to be a pass-rusher who is expected to play the outside linebacker position.  With rookies, however, it’s nearly impossible to determine how much the team can get from them right away.  Going this route would provide depth, but still may not solve the issue of what the Packers have behind Matthews and Perry, both of whom were first-round picks.

As said, the ideal situation would be for Matthews and Perry to stay healthy all season and maximize their potential but the odds say that is not likely over the course of 16 games.  Matthews recovery from his thumb injury is crucial to the Packers defensive plans and success this season and will bear more watching as time moves along.




Jason Perone is an independent sports blogger writing about the Packers on

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10 thoughts on “Matthews Still Recovering From Injury

  1. I wonder how Nitshcke, Butkus, Singletary or Jack Lambert would’ve handled such an injury? I have a pretty good idea how Lombardi would’ve handled it.

    1. “We don’t pray to win. We pray to play the best we can, and to keep us free from injury. And the prayer we say after the game is one of thanksgiving”. -Vince Lombardi

  2. Speaking as someone who had Bennett’s Fracture this injury is less about the now and more about the long term. If you don’t allow it to heal and heal properly you can lose functionality, my doctors were terrified that I had let the injury go for a week and I was scheduled for surgery the day after it was discovered. I don’t have to how hard life can be without a thumb.
    This isn’t a tough it out injury, it’s the rest of your life.

  3. It would have been faster if he would have had it amputated. This is what happens when you pay too much up front contract money.

    1. Sorry Larry, but that has to be one of the dumbest comments or poorest attempts at humor I’ve ever read. I saw on another site Matthews thumb looks like a shark attack, not a very pleasant vision. First and foremost my hope for Matthews is the thumb heals without any long term effects like Magic talked about. Secondly he comes back strong, stays healthy along with the rest of the defense, gets 23 sacks, and wins the DPOY award which he should have won in 2010.

  4. This type of injury not only affects him physically but mentally as well. I believe there will always be a little voice in the back of his head saying,”protect that thumb, protect that thumb”. May affect his play in the future. Drilling holes in the bone and tieing knots in the tendons, can you say adhesions, scar tissue, arthritis. Clay will be able to predict weather better than the meteorologists. I sincerely wish him the best of luck in the future.

  5. CMIII and AROD are future HOF’rs! Here’s to 100% recovery for both in 2014. If we lose either guy for an extended period, there is no SB in our future.

    Having said that, TT needs to prepare for such a scenario and obtain quality back-ups for both positions. Flynn is not that guy. Tolzein might be. We must draft a QB to compete. Is Mulumbo the guy to back-up CMIII? Maybe. He was impressive last year for a first year UDFA. But, I see nothing wrong with grabbing another high quality OLB in any of the top rounds of this draft. Heck, I’d be OK with drafting K Ealy in R1 if that is what TT thinks is BPA. I’be happy w M Smith (Louisville) in R2, or any of several others in R2/R3. The 3-4 doesn’t work if we don’t have to two top notch OLBs on the field at all times. But, we have many needs, so you never know which direction this draft will take us.

  6. Did he actually say a healthy Mathews and Perry will strike fear in opposing teams? CM of course if healthy. Love him, but wild man and big if the way he plays. But Perry?? Based on what? Another underperforming highly drafted TT miss on defense. Thank God he found Malumba and Palmer just in case…..they also bring the fear factor!

  7. They should wait as long as they need to to make sure that his thumb is 100% healed. Watching CM3 try to play with that club last year was sad. His explosiveness as a pass rusher just wasn’t there and he seemed frustrated.

    A players “hand size” has become the new “arm length” as far as pre draft measurements go. CM3 having the club last year just verifies the importance of powerful hands. He just wasn’t the same guy when limited to one hand and a club.

    But, I expect a BIG year from him this season!

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