Matthews ‘a stretch’ to play against Vikings

GREEN BAY, Wis. — Packers outside linebacker Clay Matthews is unlikely to play Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings due to a hamstring injury that is still bothering him.

“I think it would be a stretch for (Matthews) to play in the game,” coach Mike McCarthy said Wednesday. “I had a chance to watch Clay go through rehab today. Talking with him, he wants the opportunity to talk again on Friday. So he’s getting close.

“We’ll have him evaluated again on Friday and see how the week of rehab goes.”

Matthews has been out since injuring his hamstring in a Nov. 4 win over the Arizona Cardinals. McCarthy initially expected him to miss “a couple weeks,” but if Matthews is out Sunday, it will already be a full month-long recovery.

One bit of good news for McCarthy was the return of two-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Greg Jennings, who was able to go through a full practice Wednesday for the first time since being shut down Sept. 30 with a groin injury that later required abdominal surgery.

However, McCarthy said Tuesday that the team may have to monitor how many snaps Jennings plays initially.

“Obviously they’re probably going to err on the side of gradually implementing me in there,” Jennings said Wednesday at his locker. “If I had a say, I would just say, ‘Just let me go. I’m good. There’s no need for that.’ But I can’t control that part of it. When my number gets called, I’m going to be ready to go.”

All other injury news Wednesday from McCarthy was not encouraging, as veteran defensive back Charles Woodson (collarbone) and starting cornerback Sam Shields (ankle) were both ruled out for the upcoming game with the Vikings. Woodson broke his collarbone Oct. 21 and has been out since, while Shields is about to miss his sixth consecutive game.

Starting defensive end C.J. Wilson, who injured his knee in Sunday’s loss to the New York Giants, will “probably not make it back this week,” according to McCarthy.

“It’s a long shot for Sunday,” Wilson said at his locker. “I’m grateful it wasn’t more serious than it was. I feared the worst. Hoped for the best, but feared the worst.”

The Packers’ other starting defensive end, veteran Ryan Pickett, also did not practice Wednesday due to a thigh bruise. But it appears that he’s not in jeopardy of missing Sunday’s game.

“I don’t have great concern about him not being available Sunday,” McCarthy said of Pickett.

Running back Cedric Benson is allowed to practice this week, six weeks after being placed on injured reserve under the NFL’s new designation-to-return rule. However, Benson’s Lisfranc foot injury is not healing as quickly as expected.

“As far as Cedric Benson’s medical situation, he’s actually going through an evaluation as we speak,” McCarthy said. “We have not heard the results of that, and that’s kind of where we are.

“The specifics of it, really that’s for him to share. I know he had a 1 o’clock appointment today.”

More information on Benson should be available Thursday, with the lingering possibility that he is not going to be able to play again this season if surgery is required.

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