Matthews hoping to play
Don’t count Clay Matthews out yet.
The Green Bay Packers haven’t.
Matthews, who left the Cincinnati game Sept. 22 with a hamstring pull, was listed as a limited participant on the team’s injury report Wednesday. He was not present during the early part of practice when reporters are allowed to watch, but it’s possible he took part in individual drills later on.
The plan appears to be to see if the linebacker responds favorably to the workout and then allow him to take part in the full-pads practice coach Mike McCarthy conducts every Thursday. If he makes it through that, he would be well on his way to being cleared.
“I think Clay is better,” McCarthy said. “He’s made a lot of progress since coming off the field in Cincinnati. I’m hopeful that he’ll be able to do more tomorrow. That’s the plan.”
One injured player who won’t be doing anything for the next couple of weeks is running back James Starks, who injured his knee just before halftime of the Bengals game. Starks was at practice and appeared to have no problem walking, but McCarthy said he wouldn’t be back soon.
“I would put him in a category of a couple of weeks,” McCarthy said.
He would not say exactly what Starks did to his knee.
Starks leads the team in rushing with 34 carries for 187 yards and a touchdown, but the Packers are well aware of his injury history and can’t be surprised that he is out again.
Rookie running backs Eddie Lacy (concussion) and Johnathan Franklin (foot) both practiced in full.
In addition to Matthews, tight end Jermichael Finley (concussion) and fullback John Kuhn (hamstring) were back. Both practiced in full. Finley suffered his injury against Cincinnati, and Kuhn suffered his against Washington.
Unable to practice were cornerback Casey Hayward (hamstring) and offensive lineman Greg Van Roten (foot). Van Roten injured his foot in practice Monday and will be out several weeks, but he did not tear any ligaments.
Van Roten has been active for every game and probably will be replaced by rookie Lane Taylor, who has yet to play in a game.
Finley and Lacy both were happy they had a bye last week. It allowed them enough time to fully recover from concussions.
Finley said he did not experience severe headaches or light sensitivity. He said he passed his final test under the NFL’s concussion policy Tuesday and felt good practicing.
“I felt like a little kid out there,” he said. “Being off a week and missing the week of the game, it’s pretty bad. I’m back now feeling great, feeling fresh and ready to get out there Sunday against the Lions.”
The concussion occurred when Finley received a blow to the head and neck area from Cincinnati safety George Iloka early in the Packers’ 34-30 loss to the Bengals Sept. 22 Iloka was not penalized for the hit, but was later fined $15,000.
Finley said he thought Iloka didn’t deserve to be fined.
“I thought it was a clean hit,” he said.
Lacy was back on the field for the first time since suffering his concussion on the first drive against Washington Sept. 15. He had to sit out the Cincinnati game because he wasn’t cleared, but he did make the trip.
Now, he’s trying to shake the rust off.
Lacy suffered his concussion at the end of a run when he vaulted over a pile for a few extra yards. Safety Brandon Meriweather hit him in the head with his helmet while Lacy’s feet were off the ground.
Lacy was asked if he’ll use that move again.
“I doubt that,” he said. “I don’t see me jumping like that anymore. Unless it’s from the 5 or something like that.”
In a conference call with Detroit area reporters, McCarthy took the blame for the argument between him and quarterback Aaron Rodgers on the sideline during the Bengals game.
Cameras caught McCarthy barking back at Rodgers after the quarterback came back to the sideline irritated about one of the play calls. He said it was simply some of the frustration he and Rodgers were feeling bubbling to the surface.
“I would say that’s reflective of our season,” McCarthy said of the frustration. “It was a snippet of a situation that frankly I could have handled better. My response was poor.
“It happens, you move on. I care greatly about my football team and the players in particular and Aaron is definitely one of the guys at the front of the line.”
McCarthy was in no mood to discuss the past. At one point, frustrated, the Packers coach bluntly said “I don’t even know why we’re focused on last year” to a question about the Lions’ offensive line.
So, no, he’s not going to get into the Packers’ 22-game winning streak over the Lions in Wisconsin.
To the Packers, the streak is a non-issue.
“I don’t acknowledge the streak,” McCarthy said. “Really, I understand how long it’s been, but it isn’t going to help us Sunday. We have a preparation thought-process that goes into getting ready for division games. This is a division game for us. The importance of division games in the success of your football team, I think it’s very apparent. If you do the statistical analysis, I think it will support what I’m talking about right now.”
Right guard T.J. Lang, a Michigan native, laughed and said he doubts the Lions are too concerned “what a team 20 years ago did.” But he also knows it’s been something they’ve had to talk about plenty.
“I know from being over there that the media talks a lot about it,” Lang said. “But as a player, I doubt they really care. Every year, it’s a new year. You have a new team every year. So I don’t think that streak is really important. We haven’t talked about it. I doubt they’ve talked about it. It’s a new year. We both have new teams.”
And right now, the Lions are 3-1 and the Packers are 1-2.
The Lions bring a very competitive team to town this time. Players say they’re more worried about this game than anything that has happened in the past.
“The past is in the past,” Finley said. “We’re 1-2 right now, not a good record. The Lions are on a high right now, so we have to bring them down a little and beat them at Lambeau.”
Tyler Dunne of the Journal Sentinel staff contributed to this report.