GREEN BAY - The Green Bay Packers arrived in Minneapolis as a fairly healthy football team, with cornerback Sam Shields the only starter unable to play against the Minnesota Vikings. When they left U.S. Bank Stadium late Sunday, the medical report was quite different.
Three additional starters missed at least a portion of the 17-14 loss to the Vikings, and outside linebacker Clay Matthews was chief among them. Matthews, who finished with three tackles, including a sack, removed himself from the game during the first quarter after teammate Letroy Guion appeared to roll up on his legs.
The Packers' medical staff quickly taped and spatted Matthews' left ankle along the sideline, the same ankle that bothered him at times last season. Matthews returned to the game after missing one play and remained on the field for the majority of the game.
"It’s hard to tell from the game, but yeah, I think someone rolled up on it pretty good," Matthews said. "I was able to get through the game. It’s obviously sore now. Battle through it, hopefully it progresses through the week."
But Matthews removed himself again in the closing moments. He attempted a sliding tackle on Vikings running back Matt Asiata with less than two minutes remaining and immediately motioned to the bench. Matthews jogged off and did not return.
"He’s got some things we’re looking at there," coach Mike McCarthy said. "Just part of the medical; we’ll have that for you Wednesday."
Guion, a starter on the defensive line, left the game in the first half after suffering a knee injury and did not return. His absence afforded more playing time to rookie first-round pick Kenny Clark, who was on the field for 38 of a possible 58 defensive snaps.
If Guion's injury proves to be serious, the Packers will be down to just four defensive linemen on the active roster: Mike Daniels, Dean Lowry, Christian Ringo and Clark.
Safety Morgan Burnett missed 13 plays over the course of the game and needed medical attention twice for an injured hamstring. Burnett said after the game that his hamstring tightened and gave him problems during the second half.
"Morgan and Letroy both saw (team physician Patrick McKenzie) this morning, or this afternoon, wherever the heck we are here, but I haven’t met with the trainers yet," McCarthy said. "We’ve been in coaching meetings since this morning; we just finished up with offense and defense, and we have special teams right now, so we’re still working through that."
The fourth injured starter is Shields, who remains sidelined by a concussion suffered against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Shields did not practice last week as he worked through the concussion protocol, and Damarious Randall took over the No. 1 cornerback spot in his absence.
But McCarthy said Shields went through a private workout Monday in Green Bay, and that signifies an important step toward recovery.
"I know he’s got some things going on in the middle of the week," McCarthy said. "But, yeah, I don’t really have an update as far as progress or anything to give you there."