Matthews' cast size still to be determined

GREEN BAY, Wis. – When Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews emerged from the visitor’s locker room at Mall of America Field on Sunday night, he was still wearing a small cast on his right hand.

That makes sense, considering he told ESPN.com on his way out of the stadium that he will have the pins that were surgically implanted removed next Monday.

Less certain, however, is what kind of protection Matthews will have to play with when he is cleared to return, which could be as early as the Nov. 10 game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

“A normal break is about 4-6 weeks,” Matthews told ESPN.com. “So we’d obviously be on the shorter end at four weeks.”

Matthews confirmed that he sustained a Bennett’s fracture, which is a break of the bone at the base of the thumb, when he was injured on a sack of Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford on Oct. 6. He underwent surgery the next day. The pins were inserted to stabilize the bone and expedite the healing process.

Matthews said he would have a better idea about a timetable for his return once the pins are removed. He ruled out the possibility of playing against the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football, which is the same day he will have the pins taken out.

When he returns, he almost certainly will have to wear some kind of protection. He said he did not yet know whether it would be as large as the club cast safety Morgan Burnett wore when he broke his hand during the 2011 season or as small as the cast he currently wears. The size of the cast could determine how effective he could be, especially as a pass-rusher.

Either way, the Packers should be glad to have their best pass-rusher back on the field soon.

While their pass rush has been more than adequate with 11 sacks in the three games without Matthews, only one of those came from an outside linebacker. And it was courtesy of Nick Perry, who injured his foot on the play against the Baltimore Ravens and hasn’t played since that game. Mike Neal, Andy Mulumba and Nate Palmer have combined for zero sacks in that stretch, and they have just four quarterback hits in the last three games, according to ProFootballFocus.