GREEN BAY – Clay Matthews played mostly the same role Sunday as he did a week ago, limited mainly to third-down and clear pass-rushing situations, but the Green Bay Packers linebacker said his sprained shoulder felt “a lot better” during a 38-10 rout of the Seattle Seahawks.
Matthews had two tackles, including a tackle for loss, and a quarterback hit Sunday after being shut out of the stat sheet a week earlier against the Houston Texans. He played mostly outside linebacker in subpackage sets, with Jake Ryan, Joe Thomas and safety Morgan Burnett rotating at inside linebacker in nickel.
Most importantly, Matthews said, his left shoulder was stronger, a sign it’s healing well from a sprained AC joint.
“Last week,” Matthews said, “I was practically rushing with one arm. I felt a lot better. A few times, there was some pain out there, but I thought I held up. I thought I was able to contribute and have some good rushes. Hopefully, it’s that much better next week, and keep progressing.
“I did a number to it, so we'll take it a day at a time, a game at a time.”
Matthews said he has to be smart with what contact he takes to his left shoulder. It’s a fine balance between avoiding reinjury and still playing sound defense.
“You have to be smart about it,” Matthews said. “There’s no doubt about it. You’re still playing through an injury, but at the same time when you put yourself out there, you can’t put your defense in jeopardy. I thought for the most part, we had a pretty good game rushing the passer.”
There were chippy shots throughout the game Sunday, more than a couple after the whistle. The Packers expected nothing less from the Seahawks.
That, T.J. Lang said, is how they play the game.
Yet Lang understandably took offense to one play. The veteran right guard said Seahawks defensive end Cliff Avril punched him in a personal area below the belt during the second half. Lang requested a penalty from an official on the field, but there was no flag.
“Obviously, that’s not part of the game,” Lang said, “but two intense teams going at it. There’s a lot of talking after the play, a lot of shoving, pushing. I think it’s probably a sign of frustration on his part. So it is what it is. It’s not the first time it’s happened to me.’’
Lang stopped short of calling the Seahawks a dirty team, but he said late hits are the expectation against Seattle. The key, he said, was for the Packers to not be intimidated. There was no backing down.
“That’s the type of team they are,” Lang said. “I wouldn’t say they cheap-shot guys, but they definitely want to hit you and intimidate you.”