Why Clay Matthews couldn't skip surgery

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- One of the most popular questions surrounding the Green Bay Packers over the last several days was this: Why can’t outside linebacker Clay Matthews play with a cast over his broken right thumb?

After all, other players have been outfitted with those oversized casts that cover the entire hand and look like a giant club. Safety Morgan Burnett did it when he broke a bone in his hand in 2011 and did not miss a game. Former Packers defensive end Cullen Jenkins did the same thing in 2010.

“Every one of those injuries are different as far as the procedure, when you can play with a cast,” McCarthy said Wednesday. “It’ll be at least a couple weeks.”

That fits with the timeline in ESPN.com’s initial report, which said Matthews is expected to miss at least a month.

Bypassing surgery was not a realistic option because of the severity of his injury, known as a Bennett's fracture (which is a break at the base of the thumb).

“I think if Clay Matthews had his preference, he’d be playing in this week’s game,” McCarthy said. “But, like I said, every injury is different, and this is clearly a medical decision as far as the path that he has to go on and what occurred in the surgery.”

Even when he returns, Matthews likely will have to play with a cast.

“It’s a medical decision to hold him this long,” McCarthy said. “I think any time you’re dealing with the wrist and the thumb area, every injury is specific to that particular injury, and his is no different.”