GREEN BAY—Clay Matthews isn’t sure what the loss of the element of surprise will mean in his second week of taking snaps at inside linebacker.
He did suggest on Thursday, though, that he’s prepared for the Eagles to scheme to limit his potential impact compared to the bonanza of tackles he produced against the Bears last week.
“There’s ways. I’m not going to give them away,” Matthews said of how the Eagles might make things different for him second time around. “We’ll see what that means as far as how they (attack) it and come out.
“But at the end of the day, it’s just me playing a position. It’s not like I’m at some special, new position that no one’s seen before. It’s not a new defense. It’s just one guy lining up at a new position.”
The transition for Matthews is ongoing. He said he’s “still learning” and there will be “bumps along the way,” but after producing double-digit tackles, two tackles for loss and a sack – two sacks if not for a penalty – he sounds even more on board with shifting between the inside and outside spots than he was when first approached.
To that end, he dismissed the comments his younger brother, Casey (coincidentally an inside linebacker), made to the Philadelphia media that he didn’t think big brother liked playing inside.
“I got some heat from a few of the guys around here about that,” Matthews said. “No, there’s not much truth to that. I think anytime there’s a position change, as I mentioned last week, there’s some hesitation with what I was comfortable doing.
“Yeah, in a perfect world, I’d love to line up outside 100 percent of the time and get sacks. But we were able to do that from a different position, so it worked out.”
In addition to appreciating another chance to play on the same field as his brother, Matthews is also looking forward to defending the Eagles’ fast-paced offense without a bulky club-cast on his hand. The Philadelphia game last season was Matthews’ first after returning from a broken thumb, and the club obviously hampered his game.
The Packers are as full strength as they can be for Philly’s up-tempo attack, which will be quarterbacked by Mark Sanchez rather than Nick Foles this time.
Last season, before the Eagles ran the final 9 ½ minutes off the clock with a bruising ground game to clinch a 27-13 triumph, it was the big play that bit Green Bay. Foles hit TD passes of 55, 45 and 32 yards. The latter two were to Riley Cooper. The 55-yarder, to the since-departed DeSean Jackson, deflected off two Packers defenders who collided with one another in the open field.
“That’s exactly what it was, a couple fluke plays, a couple things that really shouldn’t have happened, but they did happen,” cornerback Tramon Williams said. “We weren’t operating on all cylinders. Hopefully we go in this time operating on all cylinders. We’ll be ready.”
Receiver Jeremy Maclin is the big-play guy now in Jackson’s stead, while rookie Jordan Matthews is getting more targets than Cooper of late. Pairing Darren Sproles with LeSean McCoy in the backfield has only causes more matchup problems.
Regularly practicing against the Packers’ no-huddle offense has its benefits, but veteran Julius Peppers said there’s no way to feel truly prepared for the speed of the operation because no one else’s offense really works the way Chip Kelly’s does.
It puts communication at the top of the priority list, as every member of the defense must look to the sideline to get the signal and repeatedly echo the calls to make sure everyone’s on the same page.
“The Eagles offense is unique. They run so many plays so quickly,” Peppers said. “It’s totally different. We had the scout team do a good job this week getting us prepared, trying to simulate the Eagles’ pace, but it’s still not going to be the same. We’ll have to adjust to it on the run as we get on the field.”
ADDITIONAL COVERAGE - NOV. 13