It doesn’t look promising for Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Clay Matthews to play again this season.
Packers coach Mike McCarthy said on Monday afternoon that the four-time Pro Bowler was still undergoing evaluations on his surgically repaired right thumb, but the initial diagnosis from the training staff was not optimistic.
Roughly an hour later, NFL Network reported Matthews had indeed re-broken the thumb on his second-quarter sack of Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in Sunday’s 38-31 loss to the Steelers.
“Clay Matthews, his injury evaluation is still going on as far as gathering all the information so I really don’t have anything to report on Clay," McCarthy said. "The training staff didn’t feel very good about the injury, so we’re still working through the process.”
Matthews suffered his first break following a sack of Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford in a 22-9 win over the Lions on Oct. 6. He missed the next four games after requiring surgery for a Bennett’s fracture, which is a crack in the bone at the base of his thumb.
If it’s the same injury, which McCarthy alluded to Sunday when he called it a “repeat injury,” it’s unlikely he’ll play again this season. Such an injury requires pins to be inserted to help stabilize the healing.
Matthews returned during a 27-13 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Nov. 10, but was largely ineffective due to a cumbersome club he was forced to wear. It eventually was scaled down to a smaller protective cast that enabled him the use of his fingers but left the hand more vulnerable.
That likely could mean Mike Neal and Nick Perry will have to carry the load at outside linebacker for the remainder of the season.
The Packers were a bit more optimistic about running back Eddie Lacy.
Shortly after breaking John Brockington’s team record for rushing yards by a rookie, Lacy left the game after aggravating the sprained ankle he’s been playing on for the past two weeks and didn’t return.
Lacy, who has 1,112 rushing yards on the season, told reporters after the game he hopes to play in Sunday’s pivotal game against the Chicago Bears for the NFC North division title.
“Eddie, he’s sore, which he has been pretty much the whole season,” McCarthy said. “We’re not going to practice on the field until Thursday, so I’ll probably have a better feel for where he’s at.”
The Packers could have as many as three spots available to them on the 53-man roster if they place Matthews on injured reserve, giving them more than enough room if they chose to activate receiver Randall Cobb from injured reserve.
Cobb practiced on a limited basis last week for the first time since breaking his tibia in a 19-17 win over the Baltimore Ravens on Oct. 13. McCarthy expects him to do more when the team returns to the field on Thursday.
“It’s part of the journey,” McCarthy said of the team’s injuries. “It comes at you so many ways, frankly I was excited the last couple weeks because I felt like we were able to practice a couple weeks in a row and felt like we were getting better in some spots.
"We were still up and down, which was evident in the Pittsburgh game, we had a lot of penalties in that game, and then we lose a couple more guys. But it’s an opportunity, particularly for our younger players, and we’re counting on those guys to step up.”