Matthews expects more with smaller cast

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews came up with an interesting way to describe what it was like playing with the club cast that covered his entire right hand in last Sunday’s loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.

“It’s kind of a like cat,” Matthews said Thursday. “Cut its whiskers off, it just loses its balance.”

Before anyone calls PETA to report him, Matthews said he’s never done that to a cat.

“But I’ve heard that’s what happens,” he said. “That’s how I felt. So you have to overcome that.”

Or you have to get a smaller cast, which is what Matthews hopes to do on Sunday against the New York Giants. He has been practicing this week with a much smaller protective covering and expects to be able to use that against the Giants.

The new cast, which he said is made of a fiberglass-like material, allows Matthews to have the use of his fingers.

Against the Eagles, he couldn’t grab anything with his right hand, and it showed in his performance. In his return after missing four games because of a broken right thumb, the four-time Pro Bowl linebacker was credited with just two tackles. He did not have a sack, quarterback hit or quarterback hurry.

ProFootballFocus.com, which breaks down every play of every NFL game, rated it as Matthews’ worst performance of the season -- with an overall grade of minus-3.4 (including minus-2.8 against the run for his only losing performance on run defense of the season) -- and his worst overall game since Week 14 of the 2010 season against the Detroit Lions (with a career-worst of minus-4.8).

The coaches’ grades weren’t pretty, either, Matthews said, and he said he wasn’t given special consideration because he was playing one-handed.

“That’s how it is, and I understood,” he said. “I don’t want to be held to any exception, like, ‘well, that’s OK because you have one hand.’ It’s part of the deal. I had realistic expectations for myself going into that game, and it’s obviously frustrating. But I felt like we did some things well, and at the same time we have to do some things better this next week, so hopefully that’s the case.”

Several times against the Eagles, Matthews could be seen trying to grab an opponent with his right hand only to realize that he had no grip.

Matthews conceded that he likely will have to wear some sort of protective device on his hands the rest of the season but said it should get smaller and less restrictive each week.

“I’m hoping with my fingers back, I’ll be like a feline who got his whiskers back,” Matthews said, “and then I’ll be able to be more spry out there.”