GREEN BAY - The Green Bay Packers may have no choice but to move Clay Matthews back to inside linebacker.
Even if Jake Ryan returns from a left ankle injury suffered against Tennessee, the Packers are going to have to strongly consider putting Matthews inside to strengthen the middle of their defense because they won't have rookie Blake Martinez.
According to a source, Martinez will miss two to four weeks with an MCL sprain to his left knee suffered in the second half of the Packers' 42-24 loss to Washington Sunday night. As a result, the Packers are left with dime backer Joe Thomas, who started for Ryan against Washington, Carl Bradford, who was signed from the practice squad last week, and possibly Ryan.
Thomas and Bradford were on the field for two of Washington's biggest fourth-quarter plays that sealed its victory.
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Thomas was in coverage on a 53-yard deep pass to Jamison Crowder, which set up a 1-yard touchdown run that gave Washington a 35-24 lead with 3 minutes, 54 seconds left in the game. Bradford was blown off the line on consecutive plays, first on Rob Kelley's 66-yard run and then on Kelley's 4-yard touchdown run that made it an 18-point game.
Moving Matthews would make sense, since he played there all of last season and was involved in more impact plays than this season playing at outside linebacker. Matthews has missed four games with a hamstring injury and has 14 tackles and three sacks and wasn't very effective rushing from the outside against Washington.
Last year, he started all 16 games inside and had 66 tackles, 6.5 sacks, an interception and three passes broken up.
When asked Monday if he thought Matthews would have to move inside this week against Philadelphia, defensive coordinator Dom Capers was non-committal.
"We haven’t discussed it yet," Capers said. "That’s what we’ll do first thing tomorrow (Tuesday). We’ll look to who we think is going to be available and look at our alternatives, what we want to do. What the Eagles are doing certainly always influences those things. We’ll talk about that tomorrow as we start our game plan meetings."
Coach Mike McCarthy said he was not sure what Ryan's status was because Ryan had to attend to a personal matter Monday and hadn't been re-evaluated.
When asked about Matthews playing inside, McCarthy said he thought his veteran was better playing outside.
"Clay just came back this week, so the focus was really playing him more as a situational role player against the Redskins," McCarthy said. "So, really, once we get in the room, like we always do Tuesday, we’ll go through those things. But, yes, Clay’s an impact player at outside linebacker. That’s been the focus of playing him there this year.
"So we’ve got to see how Jake Ryan is. When he gets back in town, he has a chance. So we’ll see where Jake is."
On Tuesday, the Packers signed inside linebacker Derrick Mathews to their practice squad. Mathews was signed as a free agent on Aug. 2 and spent most of training camp with the team, getting cut on the reduction to 75 players on Aug. 30.
Mathews was one of four linebackers the Packers worked out on Tuesday. Also in for tryouts were Beniquez Brown, who was signed as an undrafted free agent in May and was cut Sept. 3, Dwayne Norman and Darnell Sankey.
The Packers also worked out wide receiver B.J. Daniels and cornerback Darryl Morris.