GREEN BAY – Asked about the blind-side block that injured his shoulder on Monday night, Clay Matthews was trying to hold back his thoughts.
“I wasn’t a fan of it,” Matthews said Wednesday. “I’ve got a lot more to say about it, but I’m going to say it behind closed doors.”
Then he said it anyway.
“Cheap shot, but it is what it is. I ate it.”
It certainly didn’t taste good. Was it legal?
“I don’t know,” Matthews said. “They didn’t throw a flag, probably because I wasn’t a quarterback. I know all about that.”
Sarcasm aside, it wasn’t actually the hit from Eagles offensive lineman Allen Barbre that hurt the shoulder, but the way Matthews landed on the ground. His left arm got pinned underneath him as he crashed to the turf, and that’s what threw the shoulder out of whack.
X-rays were negative and after getting it numbed up with a shot, Matthews returned to the game. He earned the praise of Head Coach Mike McCarthy for playing through the injury while also switching to inside linebacker to help out in a pinch, but the prospect of dealing with another health issue for multiple weeks is an understandable letdown.
“It’s obviously frustrating,” said Matthews, who had just returned from a three-week absence due to a hamstring injury in the Packers’ previous game. “I was feeling good on that first series, playing a little faster, with the position change and everything.
“It’s part of the game, though. We’ll battle through it and just deal with it I guess.”
McCarthy said he expects Matthews to play on Sunday vs. Houston, but it’s too early to tell which position or whether he’ll be limited by the shoulder.
Inside linebacker Jake Ryan was on the verge of returning last week from an ankle injury but was a game-time scratch in Philadelphia. If he’s back alongside Joe Thomas inside, Matthews could move back outside. Another inside ’backer, Blake Martinez, may need more time yet to come back from his knee injury.
Matthews had no qualms about moving back inside when called upon, saying it was “natural” given the position switch from midseason 2014 through last year and how “paper-thin” the defense was at that spot heading into the Eagles game.
Moving forward, Matthews expects his playing time to be based on pain tolerance and effectiveness.
“It’s obviously being smart and not doing any further damage as well as being able to help the team,” he said. “It’s one thing to be out there and deal with pain, but if you’re just kind of being a liability, it doesn’t make sense.”
The good news on the health front is cornerback Damarious Randall made it through the Eagles game with no issues regarding his groin injury, which had forced him to miss five games and six of the last seven.
Randall missed a couple of open-field tackles, but his breaks on the ball were sharp and he provided a boost to the coverage unit. McCarthy acknowledged his presence in the secondary made a difference for the unit.
Simply playing a full game after such a long layoff was the toughest part for Randall.
“Just getting back in football rhythm and in football shape,” he said. “Obviously, there’s no way practice can put you in a game and have game-like reps. I’m happy and fortunate to get through the game without any setbacks.”
The defense as a whole wasn’t complaining about the Packers’ offense controlling time of possession by nearly 11 minutes, helping Green Bay hold an opponent under 30 points for the first time in five games.
The Eagles’ 24 minutes, 37 seconds of possession time was the third lowest by a Packers’ opponent this season, and their seven total drives were the fewest.
“Oh yeah, it feels good,” outside linebacker Nick Perry said. “You’re a little more fresh. You just give everybody the opportunity to go, full-go. It puts us in better situations to make different calls to get after the quarterback.”