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Matthews' return opens options at outside linebacker

Dec. 17, 2012
 

In his first game in a month, Clay Matthews was awarded one of the Packers’ game balls after tallying six tackles (four for a loss) and two sacks despite playing only 47 defensive snaps.

More than any simple statistics, however, the three-time Pro Bowler’s return allowed the Packers’ outside linebacker unit more flexibility after being stretched thin during the month Matthews was sidelined by a hamstring injury.

The return allowed the Packers to reinstall their popular “bat” defensive package with one down linemen, four linebackers and six defensive backs while also rotating undrafted rookie Dezman Moses with veteran Erik Walden on the opposite side of Matthews.

Despite going back to the bench after making four starts in place of Matthews, Moses (32 plays) still finished with more defensive snaps than Walden (26) and saw most of the action late on pass-rushing downs.

“That’s a tough position because they’re rushing against guys who are a lot bigger than they are,” Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers said. “Nothing is more strenuous than rushing the passer, especially if you’re rushing against a 325-pound tackle and you’re 245 pounds. So, you need to be able to roll those guys through to keep them fresh to where they have the same kind of quickness to start in the game in the fourth quarter.”

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