PHILADELPHIA — Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews suffered a shoulder injury during the first quarter of Monday's win over the Philadelphia Eagles. And while nothing was broken, Matthews was visibly hurting after the game.
"I landed on my shoulder and I think I messed up my AC joint," Matthews said. "I’m in a little bit of pain, but that’s all right."
The injury occurred when the Eagles ran a reverse on their first possession of the game. Quarterback Carson Wentz handed the ball to wide receiver Bryce Treggs on a play that moved from left to right. Matthews, who started at inside linebacker with Jake Ryan inactive, had his eyes on Treggs while tracking the play across the field.
That's when offensive lineman Allen Barbre, a former Packer, leveled him with a vicious — but completely legal — blind-side block.
Matthews immediately jogged off the field and was checked by the Packers' medical staff. He was taken to the locker room for X-rays which, according to Matthews, came back negative. He returned to the field shortly thereafter.
"It’s up to the player to go back in (the game)," Matthews said. "We came in here and made sure nothing was broken. Fortunately I was able to go out there and finish the game. But it is what it is."
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Though Matthews was not wearing a sling, he held the injured arm at a 90-degree angle during his time in the locker room and gingerly packed his personal items into a travel bag. When general manager Ted Thompson passed through, Matthews assured him that everything would be fine.
"There are a lot of things that happen over the course of a game: adjustments, guys going in and out, Clay coming back from his injury and so forth," coach Mike McCarthy said. "You just have to keep fighting through those things."
For Matthews the fighting began during the week when coaches informed him that he would be moving back to inside linebacker. Injuries to Ryan and rookie Blake Martinez, the two starters, left the Packers with only Joe Thomas and Carl Bradford to choose from.
The better decision for McCarthy and defensive coordinator Dom Capers was to shift Matthews from outside to inside, the position he played for the second half of 2014 and all of 2015.
"It felt natural going back in there," Matthews said. "Obviously picking up the defense and some of the new terminology was difficult with a week’s notice. But I thought for the most part it was business as usual. Fortunately we got a lead early enough in the game where they could bring me a little bit more (on pass rushes) and didn’t have to kind of sit there and play a true, traditional inside backer.
"I think that’s when I’m at my best at the inside (when they can use me as a rusher). I played it for a year and a half, so going back inside there was a little rust but for the most part I felt like I read my keys, was at where I needed to and if it wasn’t for the shoulder I felt like I probably would have been a little more involved in some plays later in the game."
Matthews finished four tackles and recorded a 10-yard sack of Wentz.