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Matthews' surgery latest blow in long line of injuries

Dec. 27, 2013
 
Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews leaves the field after suffering a thumb injury during aSunday's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Lambeau Field. Lukas Keapproth/Press Gazette Media
Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews leaves the field after suffering a thumb injury during aSunday's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Lambeau Field. Lukas Keapproth/Press Gazette Media

Any hope the Green Bay Packers have for a late-season rally behind returning quarterback Aaron Rodgers likely will have to happen without their best player on defense.

Packers coach Mike McCarthy confirmed outside linebacker Clay Matthews recently underwent surgery for his re-broken right thumb sustained on a second-quarter sack of Ben Roethlisberger in Sunday’s 38-31 loss to Pittsburgh.

Matthews missed four games earlier this season due to surgery for a Bennett’s fracture, a crack in the bone at the base of the thumb that required pins to be inserted to stabilize it.

If it was the exact same injury as has been alluded to, it would be difficult to see the 26-year-old playing again this year. McCarthy said he’s not been given a timeline for Matthews’ return.

“My heart breaks for the young man,” outside linebackers coach Kevin Greene said. “It’s just the nature of pro football, injuries occur. He just happened to have the same thing twice in the same season. It’s a bad frickin' deal. It is what it is, but he’s going to be a true pro about it. I know he’s going to get it fixed and he’ll come back and be the same old Clay.”

The saga of Rodgers and Matthews has underscored an injury-riddled 2013 season for the Packers, who currently have 16 players on injured reserve.

As the cornerstones of the roster, Rodgers and Matthews received lucrative extensions in the offseason, but have played in only four games together this season.

Rodgers has missed the last seven with a fractured collarbone, but he’s listed as probable to make his return from a fractured collarbone in Sunday’s winner-take-all game for the NFC North title against Chicago.

Matthews hasn’t been around much lately as he’s been traveling to get opinions on the injury, according Greene, but his loss is a definite blow to a defense trying to right the ship.

Matthews' absence falls directly on Mike Neal and Nick Perry, but rookies Andy Mulumba and Nate Palmer likely will be close behind in the rotation.

“He’s the type of guy that you can’t replace him. He can do so much,” inside linebacker A.J. Hawk said. “Obviously our plan doesn’t really change a whole lot. We still have the same type of packages that we have with him in. Just might have instead of one guy doing some of that stuff, we might rotate different guys, too. Just the role that he plays really.”

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