Mike McCarthy's hope came to fruition on Wednesday.
After missing a month with his most recent hamstring flareup, Packers outside linebacker Clay Matthews was a limited participant at Wednesday's practice, two days after the Packers coach said he was optimistic Matthews would be back this week.
Matthews said after practice he felt good and was hopeful he'll be back for Sunday's game against Chicago to give a needed boost to a Packers' pass rush that's tallied only two sacks in its last three games.
Given the various hamstring ailments that have plagued Matthews over the last few seasons, he was fully aware to not push the envelope and aggravate it even further during his recovery.
"I thought -- Iím not going to put myself in an older category, but maybe a younger Clay might have pushed it a little too much in trying to get back out there, but you have to realize the bigger picture here," Matthews said. "We were able to get a few wins in my absence but at the same time with a few games left and an opportunity to clinch this thing, with an opportunity to get into the playoffs, ultimately thatís the big picture, itís to get healthy and go into the last part of the season and playoffs full strength and full speed. Hopefully thatís the case and today was a good step."
The Packers didn't get as good of news on defensive back Charles Woodson, who has been ruled out for Sunday's game after his most recent evaluation on his collarbone with team doctors.
Last week, McCarthy said the team was looking at a possible return for Woodson against the Bears. He appeared to be on target for it after practicing on a limited basis throughout last week before receiving word from team doctor, Pat McKenzie, that it wouldn't be in his best interest to play.
"Charles Woodson, very frustrating day," McCarthy said. "Charles was ready to play, he's ready to go. But the doctors are still, based on the information over the last two days, we're going to hold him out of the game. This is in the best interest of Charles. I know it's disappointing, frustrating for him. He's continuing to rehab, that's basically where he was all day today."