Signs pointing to Matthews' return vs. Colts

Ryan Wood
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GREEN BAY – Clay Matthews said his hamstring is in a “better position” than last week, and the Green Bay Packers' outside linebacker believes there’s a good chance he can play Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts.

Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Clay Matthews (52) sacks quarterback Eli Manning (10) against the New York Giants at Lambeau Field.

Matthews said he was able to take team reps in Thursday’s practice, an even larger workload than last week. He said he was “obviously disappointed” to miss Sunday’s loss at the Atlanta Falcons, but he understood.

“I think we didn’t want a setback moving forward,” Matthews said. “It might have been pushing it a little bit. Obviously feel much better this week, able to get more team reps, and feel good about what we’ve done thus far in the week.

“So all indications are pointing to me being out there on Sunday.”

It’s worth noting Matthews said last week he was taking team reps, which he believed was an indicator he could play at Atlanta. It’s also worth keeping in mind the Colts have the NFL’s worst offensive line, leading the league with 31 sacks allowed.

So even though Matthews is the Packers' top pass rusher off the edge, they probably won’t need him to harass Colts quarterback Andrew Luck. Of course, a porous offensive line also gives a pass rusher plenty incentive to play.

“As a pass rush unit,” Matthews said, “we hopefully can take advantage of that. Luck's been harassed a bunch this season. You know our D-line, our front four, that's kind of the strength of our defense, so it's really going to fall on us to kind of disrupt not only the run game but get after them in the passing game.”

Entering this season, Matthews hadn’t missed a game since 2013. Other than his rookie year, the past two seasons were the only time in Matthews’ career he played all 16 games.

Matthews has missed two games through the first seven this fall. There’s a rhythm that comes with consistent pass rushing, and his absences haven’t helped. After having a sack in each of his first three games this season, Matthews hasn’t gotten to the quarterback in his past two.

Matthews’ first absence came Week 3 against the Detroit Lions. From there, he played three games in 11 days before missing Sunday’s game in Atlanta. He suggested the schedule wasn’t ideal.

“I felt great going out there on that Thursday night game,” Matthews said. “Getting up to it was difficult, but I think three games in 11 days is probably difficult when you're coming off an injury. So I think that's ultimately the setback in which we had.

“We're trying to be smart, especially, really without any breaks moving forward for the next umpteen weeks. So I think sometimes we tend to be overly cautious, but you know rightfully so too, especially with this long haul we have.”

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