Clay Matthews pre-snap responsibilities will increase in the wake of inside linebacker Sam Barrington’s season-ending foot injury, but it remains to be seen how large that role will be.
Matthews will be fitted for a helmet with a radio transmitter, necessary to make defensive calls on the field. So will inside linebacker Nate Palmer, who handled on-field calls after Barrington departed against the Chicago Bears on Sunday.
The NFL allows two defensive players to be fitted for helmets with radio transmitters. Defensive coordinator Dom Capers said Palmer and Matthews will be the primary and secondary guy – in no particular order – Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks. Even if Matthews isn’t the primary play caller, his communication responsibilities will increase, Capers said.
“He just becomes that much more,” Capers said. “Clay is an important player to us no matter who else is out there. I’d say you saw that last week. Clay just has to continue to give us good leadership and take charge out on the field, make all the calls. He’s got a little bit more of an expanded package in terms of making the calls. I’ve got total confidence he’ll do a good job with it.”
If Matthews were given primary play-calling responsibilities, it would be another significant step toward transitioning him as an inside linebacker. The Packers’ best pass rusher still is listed as an outside linebacker on the team’s depth chart, but he plays inside on early downs.
Matthews played all 77 snaps at Bears, with 51 coming at inside linebacker and only 24 at outside linebacker, according to Pro Football Focus. On two snaps, he lined up in coverage across the slot.
“Clay’s role in there becomes even more important,” Capers said.
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