GREEN BAY, Wis. – The Green Bay Packers expect to have linebacker Clay Matthews back in the lineup Sunday against the Bears and coach Mike McCarthy couldn’t be happier about it.
“I thought he looked good all week,” McCarthy said Friday after the Packers held their last practice before the game. “I look for Clay to play and make an impact in the game.”
Matthews practiced the past three days without incident. The team’s top pass rusher has missed the past four games because of a recurring hamstring injury.
“It’s different speed when you’re out there at game speed, but I think he’s had a good week of practice building up, so I’m anxious to see him out there playing,” defensive coordinator Dom Capers said.
The first-place Packers (9-4) are looking to clinch a second straight NFC North title by beating the second-place Bears (8-5). Capers and McCarthy both suggested Matthews could have his playing time limited against the Bears.
“Potentially,” McCarthy said. “I think it would be smart to watch his reps. It’s something that we’ve talked about with him personally and just a number of guys coming back [from injuries]. This is a very important game, but there’s more left to be played after this game.”
Green Bay could be forced to make some more changes on their offensive line. Right guard Josh Sitton had a hip injury flare up and was held out Friday. He is questionable for the game.
“After talking with Josh, I’m not real concerned about it,” McCarthy said.
Offensive lineman T.J. Lang is probable after missing Green Bay’s last game with an ankle injury. Lang had been moved from left guard to right tackle after Bryan Bulaga suffered a season-ending hip injury last month.
But Lang might be returning to his former spot Sunday because the coaches have liked what they have seen from undrafted rookie Don Barclay at right tackle after Lang was injured.
Lang is in favor of starting again at left guard.
“That’s obviously where I have the most experience, so that’s probably where I feel most comfortable,” he said.
McCarthy, wouldn’t divulge his plans for how the offensive line would shake out Sunday.
Lang said he took an equal amount of reps in practice this week at guard and tackle. Evan Dietrich-Smith, who has been starting at left guard since the switch of Lang to tackle, also worked some at center and right guard in practice this week.
NOTES: The Packers listed S Charles Woodson (collarbone), WR Jordy Nelson (hamstring), RB James Starks (knee) and DE C.J. Wilson (knee) as out for Sunday. Woodson hasn’t played for nearly two months after suffering a fractured collarbone. . Capers laughed when asked about the compliment given to him by Brandon Marshall. The Bears WR, who has an NFL-leading 101 catches, said Capers was Green Bay’s “player MVP” for devising a scheme that held him to two catches for 24 yards in the Packers’ Week 2 win. “I don’t listen to a lot of things that go on before and after the game,” Capers said. “One of the things that 27 years (as an NFL coach) teaches you is you kind of focus on the things that you control and move on because there’s normally a lot more said than is actually done.”