Clay Matthews is probable to play for the first time in a month, but you can bet the Green Bay Packers will be mindful of the outside linebacker’s snaps as he returns this Sunday from his hamstring injury.
After a full week of practice, the three-time Pro Bowler is expected to be back in the lineup against the Bears for the first time since straining his hamstring against Arizona on Nov. 14.
It couldn’t come a moment sooner for a Packers’ defense that’s tallied only two sacks over the last three games, especially considering Matthews had 3 1/2 sacks in Green Bay’s 23-10 win over Chicago earlier this season.
Still, the team will be careful to not push Matthews too hard in his first game back.
“We’ll kind of see how it goes,” Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers said. “Generally speaking, I think you try to ease a guy back in to where … Clay’s a guy that normally doesn’t come off the field. So I don’t know that’ll be that kind of game, but we’ll see how he feels once he’s out there.”
Packers outside linebackers coach Kevin Greene said he still plans to incorporate Dezman Moses in some way after seeing significant growth from the undrafted rookie in the four weeks he replaced Matthews in the starting lineup.
With Moses playing behind Matthews and Walden, it could open the door for some occasional breaks for Matthews, who has 31 tackles and nine sacks in nine games this season.
“We’re going to try to monitor him as the game progresses,” Packers outside linebackers coach Kevin Greene said. “We don’t want anything to reoccur obviously, so we will have the pulse of Clay. He may resist it. Taking a blow here or there to make sure everything is nice and progressing the way it should. I expect to receive some extreme resistance from Clay, but it is what it is.”