Clay Matthews is practicing this week with the intention of making his preseason debut Saturday night against the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Green Bay Packers linebacker didn't travel with the team to their first two preseason games due knee and elbow injuries, but was back taking reps at inside linebacker with the first-team defense during the team portion of Tuesday's practice at Ray Nitschke Field.
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The third preseason game usually is where starters receive their heaviest workload. Considering Matthews has played in only two preseason finales in his first six NFL seasons, whatever snaps he takes against the Eagles might be the only work the five-time Pro Bowler gets in the exhibition season.
"Hope so. That's the plan," said Matthews on whether he'll play. "It's always my plan, but I feel good. It's good to get out there, run around and we'll see what that means. Obviously we have a good Philadelphia team, one that likes to pressure you. We'll see what that means, but I'm preparing for it."
Matthews missed five days of practice and sat out of the preseason opener against New England two weeks ago because of knee soreness, but said his knee "feels great." He was limited in practice last week because of an elbow issue that doesn't appear to be football-related.
"The elbow is actually something that we're dealing with from a medical staff standpoint," Matthews said. "That being said, it's good enough to get back out there. Very, very limited as far what I'm going to talk about. But I feel good. We've just got to be smart as far as personal health."
The Packers were down three starting offensive linemen on Tuesday with guards T.J. Lang (concussion) and Josh Sitton (ankle) joining left tackle David Bakhtiari (knee) on the injury list.
Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Bakhtiari will need to practice this week in order to play against the Eagles. Don Barclay continued taking snaps with the first-team offense in Bakhtiari's place Tuesday with Josh Walker filling in for Lang and Lane Taylor for Sitton.
Bakhtiari, who has missed the last five practices, hasn't missed a meaningful start in his first two NFL seasons. Once the regular season begins, he doesn't see his current injury changing that.
"No matter what, with limited reps and preseason games, myself, the organization, the fans, and the Green Bay Packers are counting on me to be ready for Week 1, and I will. That's undoubtedly," Bakhtiari said. "Right now it's making sure I go through everything I need to through to be ready for Week 1. Because right now the most important thing obviously is the regular season.
"But beyond that we're going to focus on this week, trying to get me back to see if I can come in, get the reps I need and get in the game. That would be awesome."
Defensive lineman Mike Daniels (ankle) and safety Morgan Burnett (personal matter) returned to practice after sitting out last week and not traveling with the team to Pittsburgh.
Receiver Jared Abbrederis (concussion), who hasn't practice since July 30, attended the latter portion of Tuesday's practice. That's traditionally a sign that a player is close to completing the concussion protocol.
"I knew on the field when he fell that it was serious," said McCarthy before practice. "I was hoping it was his back, so he's still working his way through it."
New injuries: WR Jordy Nelson (torn ACL), G Josh Sitton (ankle), G T.J. Lang (concussion), QB Scott Tolzien (concussion), DL Datone Jones (knee).
Still out: T David Bakhtiari (knee), TE Justin Perillo (concussion), WR Jared Abbrederis (concussion), WR Javess Blue (shoulder),
Returned: LB Clay Matthews (elbow), OLB Nick Perry (groin), DL Mike Daniels (ankle), CB Demetri Goodson (calf), DB Kyle Sebetic (ankle).