GREEN BAY—Clay Matthews missed both games against the Bears last season due to injuries, but it doesn’t sound like he’ll be missing this one.
“Provided there are no setbacks, I expect myself to be out there on Sunday,” Matthews said on Friday, when he was listed as probable on the injury report with a groin injury. He was limited in practice on Wednesday and Thursday and still has Saturday’s practice to get ready.
“It feels good, progressively getting better throughout the week and more confident and comfortable being out there. Tomorrow we’ll fly around, break a sweat and feel good going into Sunday. I don’t anticipate there being any problems.”
He conceded the Bears offense can cause some problems, though, with quarterback Jay Cutler’s multitude of weapons. Matthews called this the best Chicago offense he’s seen since coming into the league in 2009, particularly with its ability to “gash you and make big plays.”
Matthews has made his share against the Bears, recording 5 ½ sacks in the two games in 2012, but as Chicago cranked up its offense last year, the Packers missed Matthews.
Running back Matt Forte rushed for 235 yards and three TDs in the two games against Green Bay in 2013, while receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery combined for 321 receiving yards and three scores.
Matthews said the key against Forte is to not let him get the ball in open space, while the focus with Cutler is to disrupt his timing and footwork in the pocket.
“When he sits back there, as you saw in the San Francisco game, and he gets on a roll and he gets hot, it’s hard to stop that offense,” Matthews said. “You just have to make him uncomfortable, and hopefully he throws one up for us to take away.”
Elsewhere on defense, it appears inside linebacker Jamari Lattimore could make his third straight start in place of Brad Jones, who returned to practice this week but was limited with a quadriceps injury and is listed as questionable.
Lattimore has been credited with 20 tackles (13 solo) over the last two games.
“Jamari is very comfortable in there,” Head Coach Mike McCarthy said. “He’s definitely a playmaker, his ability to run and hit. I like what he gives us. I like his attitude, I like his energy. I think he’s done a nice job the last two weeks.”
On offense, rookie receiver Jeff Janis could be in line to make his NFL debut if Jarrett Boykin is sidelined.
Boykin, already on the injury report with a knee injury but a full participant in practice earlier in the week, injured his groin on Thursday and is questionable for Sunday’s game. If Boykin can’t play, rookie Davante Adams would slide into the No. 3 receiver role, and Janis would almost certainly be active on gameday for the first time.
“I’m not sure yet,” Janis said of his pending status. “I’m just going to wait for my name to be called. Whenever the ball comes my way, I have to make a play and show them what I’m capable of.”
Janis did that in the preseason, catching just two passes but scoring touchdowns on both, from 34 and 33 yards out. The seventh-round draft pick and speedster from Division II Saginaw Valley State knows that earning quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ trust is everything for a young receiver in this offense.
“It’s very important. If he doesn’t trust me, he won’t look my way,” Janis said. “That’s one thing I just have to show him so we can build that trust and I can get some balls thrown my way.”
ADDITIONAL COVERAGE - SEPT. 26