The Green Bay Packers will still be without Clay Matthews this Sunday against the New York Giants as the outside linebacker continues to work his way back from his most recent hamstring flare-up.
That means the Packers will once again turn to the combination of undrafted rookie Dezman Moses and third-year veteran Frank Zombo to carry the load with the three-time Pro Bowler missing his second consecutive game.
In last week’s 24-20 win over Detroit, Moses and Zombo combined for one sack, two quarterback hits and two additional hurries while contributing to a Packers’ pass defense that limited Matthew Stafford to only a 43.6 completion percentage and three turnovers.
One of those turnovers came when Moses stripped a ball from a scrambling Stafford after being flushed from the pocket at a critical point in the first half. On the opposite side, veteran Erik Walden added two more sacks as the defense combined for five sacks on the day.
Matthews, who suffered the hamstring pulled against Arizona before the bye week, didn’t practice at all this week, which allowed both Moses and Zombo to see an increase in their rep count.
It was especially important for Zombo, who was playing in his first game of the season on Sunday after starting the season on the physically unable to perform list with a severe hamstring injury of his own.
“He stepped up and did a couple of good things – had him down for a couple quarterback hits and he played the run fairly well,” Packers outside linebackers coach Kevin Greene said. “He’s going to progressively get better. My plan is to get him and Moses back into the same kind of rotation and getting them both some reps and letting them play and have fun.”
Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers said the 26 snaps (20 defensively, six special teams) Zombo saw on Sunday were more than the team anticipated in his first game back, but were happy with his production nevertheless.
As for Moses, he’s played in every game this season after making the roster as an undrafted free agent out of Tulane, but saw only 71 defensive snaps over his first eight games before playing 43 and 55 plays in each of the last two weeks.
Moses will get his second career start on Sunday with Matthews on the mend and look to build off his showing against the Lions where he registered his second sack of the season, along with forcing the Stafford fumble.
“Each week builds confidence, especially when you play well,” Moses said. “For me, I’m definitely going to try to build on last week. Take the good things and bad things and correct those and just improve on my overall game for this week. We’re excited about going to New York and we have a job to do, and we’re going to try to get it done.”