Notebook: Matthews suffers a setback

Tom Silverstein, and Michael Cohen
Packers News
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GREEN BAY – The Green Bay Packers fully expected linebacker Clay Matthews to play against the Indianapolis Colts until he did something Friday that caused his hamstring injury to get worse.

Green Bay Packers inside linebacker Clay Matthews missed Sunday's game due to a hamstring injury.

“Clay looked good in practice Thursday,” coach Mike McCarthy said Monday. “(He) had a setback and was unable to play. His status for this week, I’m not ready to get into that because I haven’t had the meeting with the trainers.”

McCarthy did not say how the setback occurred. The Packers don't practice on Fridays, but the players often work out on their own.

Matthews missed his second straight game and third of the season.

The defense missed him badly. Even though the Colts were down two starters on the offensive line and had given up six sacks the week before at home, defensive coordinator Dom Capers had to blitz to get pressure on quarterback Andrew Luck.

His best remaining pass rushers managed a half sack and one quarterback hit. The majority of shots on Luck came from blitzing linebackers and defensive backs with Jake Ryan, Morgan Burnett, Micah Hyde, Quinten Rollins and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix each bringing the Colts quarterback to the ground once.

Linebackers Nick Perry, Datone Jones, Julius Peppers, Kyler Fackrell and defensive end Mike Daniels were not factors.

“It’ll be a focus as we move forward,” McCarthy said. “It’s like anything. If you’ve got to get there with four, you get there with four. If you’ve got to get there with five, you have to do what you need to do to get the quarterback off the spot.

“We were able to make the two plays with big interceptions early. We’re not there far away from where we want to be.”

Capers had to blitz a lot to get pressure on Luck and did it in several key situations that backfired, including a third-and-2 with just over 2 minutes left that resulted in a 27-yard gain and allowed the Colts to close out the game.

“Obviously we’ll look forward to when Clay comes back,” Capers said. “He’s a good player. You like to have as many good players out there as you can. He’s a guy that can win his one-on-ones.”

Main man: James Starks said he had a good week of practice last week and felt he was making significant progress from recent knee surgery.

“I’m going to try to do more than I did last week,” Starks said. “I feel like every day it’s getting better. I feel stronger.”

Once Starks comes back, the Packers will be able to run more of a traditional offense, but given the way Ty Montgomery ran the ball against the Colts they might be able to do it now.

Montgomery carried seven times for 53 yards, including a 24-yard run on the Packers’ first play from scrimmage. After that first series, however, Montgomery was used sparingly and not like a guy who is a full-time halfback.

“Obviously, this past week, he was on a play count,” offensive coordinator Edgar Bennett said. “So certainly going into the week, we already had a plan in place and we wanted to stay consistent with that.”

This week, Montgomery feels like he could carry a much heftier load. Asked if he could carry 20 times in a game, he said, “I believe so.”

Going deep: In December of last year, quarterback Aaron Rodgers gave Jeff Janis a chance with a deep pass under perfect conditions. He lofted a throw toward his tall and speedy receiver only to watch the ball fall incomplete.

Janis, then in his second season with the Packers, looked awkward and uncoordinated as he tried to make the catch against the Detroit Lions. He would go on to say he had difficulty tracking the ball inside Ford Field.

Flash forward to this season and Rodgers gave Janis a second opportunity. Rodgers launched a perfect pass down the left sideline in Sunday’s game against the Colts. The ball hit Janis in the facemask and the hands, and then fell incomplete.

It was a disheartening moment for a player who had received the most snaps of his career in recent weeks.

“I think Jeff has done a better job tracking the football,” McCarthy said. “It’s something he’s put a lot of time into. I think he’s clearly improved in that area. I think he’s clearly made leaps and bounds in that area from last year to this year.

"But that’s an opportunity. He has to catch that ball."

Limited basis: Packers receiver Randall Cobb did not play in the first half Sunday in his first game back from a hamstring injury.

Cobb, who was not expected to play, took the field sparingly in the second half and finished with two catches for 14 yards and a touchdown.

After the game, Rodgers and Cobb both said they were confused about the diminished playing time for the team’s No. 2 receiver. McCarthy said lower volume was the plan all along.

“It was a late add, frankly,” McCarthy said. “It was clearly right before the time to hand in the inactives. … So we made some adjustments on our call sheet and went into the game thinking Randall would be in a limited fashion.”

Stu Courtney of USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin contributed to this report.

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