Clay Matthews was a full-participant Saturday at the Packers first training camp practice, after sitting out the entire off-season recovering from two thumb surgeries he underwent last season. It’s been 8 months since his second operation and while Matthews says it’s an ongoing process, he did say he feels “quite strong”. His return marked the first time he and new addition Julius Peppers lined up together.
“A guy as established as Julius coming in here, with his resume that speaks for itself, he's only going to help myself out, this defense out. It presents a lot of problems for the offense and I'm looking forward to it. It's a defense that's in need of another playmaker and I think he offers that and he'll bring that and help this team this year,” Matthews said.
And adding a player of Peppers caliber gives the coaching staff more flexibility to tap into Matthew's full potential..
“As you guys saw today they definitely had me moving around from lining up in the middle of the field as a stacked backer (LB) to the left, to the right, lining up in the slot and just putting more of our playmakers on the field. It allows for me to use a multitude of my weapons and not just lining up in one spot rushing the passer,” Matthews explained.
“When you have an impact player you want to create targeting problems and it's a lot easier for an offensive perspective if you know exactly where the guys going to line up every time,” said Mike McCarthy.
Matthews was wearing a brace today. He said he has a lot more mobility than he did in the cast last year and feels protected, but explained the goal is to get to where he eventually doesn’t have to wear anything aside from tape. Matthews also said a big part of the rehabilitation process is mental and stepping back on the field today and flying around certainly helps build his confidence.