GREEN BAY, Wis. — The broken thumb suffered by Clay Matthews is reportedly going to keep the Green Bay Packers’ star outside linebacker sidelined for a significant amount of time.
According to Jay Glazer of FOX Sports, Matthews had surgery Monday on what is described as a Bennett’s fracture. Matthews’ thumb needed pins to stabilize it due to the dislocation. Glazer added that it will be four weeks until the pins are removed, at which point Matthews will likely need further time to heal. That means Matthews could potentially not return until Week 11.
At the time of coach Mike McCarthy’s Monday afternoon press conference, Matthews was still in a medical appointment.
“I’m hopeful it’s not season ending,” McCarthy said. “I think we’re all hopeful, but you have to get all the opinions and make sure you always do right by the player.”
Matthews was injured late in the third quarter when he sacked Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford for a 12-yard loss. Matthews then jogged to the locker room and, while his return was announced as questionable, he never re-entered the game.
“If you watch it, you can just kind of see at the end, he kind of falls on it,” McCarthy said.
This isn’t the first physical setback for Matthews this season. Matthews injured his hamstring and did not return to the Packers’ Week 3 game when he sacked Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton and forced a fumble on the play.
“I told him he’s going to have to stop sacking the quarterback because the last two weeks, he’s injured himself sacking the quarterback,” defensive coordinator Dom Capers said.
Matthews signed a five-year, $66 million extension this offseason with $20.5 million guaranteed.
In 2011, Packers safety Morgan Burnett broke his hand and didn’t miss any games. The same was true of the broken hand suffered by Green Bay defensive lineman Cullen Jenkins early in the 2010 season. However, Burnett and Jenkins both chose not to have surgery and instead played with a club on their injured hand. It’s unclear whether Matthews will have to still wear a club upon his return after surgery.
The size of it, how much it limits him, obviously you’d like to use your hands because you’re grabbing cloth and jerking and pulling,” Capers said of players using a club. “So it affects a lot of the moves you make and that type of thing. We’ve had Cullen play with it up front and he still was quick and could make his moves. I think Clay would be able to do the same thing. You know, Morgan played in the secondary with it. So we’ll kind of have to wait and see what they say and hope for the best. And when we get him back, we’ll see what we can do.”
In Matthews’ absence, the Packers will use Mike Neal and Nick Perry as their starting outside linebackers.
This offseason, Neal converted from defensive lineman to a hybrid role of mostly playing outside linebacker. Neal picked up his first sack of the season in Week 5.
Perry, a 2012 first-round pick, was benched in favor of Neal for the first time in his career Sunday against the Lions. But coming off the bench, Perry had two sacks and was more productive than he’d ever been.
“The one encouraging thing to me is, I think Mike Neal has made really good strides,” Capers said. “I think you saw him play his best game yesterday. I think you saw Nick Perry play his best game yesterday. And that’s the nature of this business.
“Not knowing the status (of Matthews) and what’s going to go on there, we need for Mike Neal and Nick Perry to be ready to play next week the way they played this week. Because they played their best football this week.”