Will cast limit Matthews' impact?

GREEN BAY, Wis. – Clay Matthews’ hands are an integral part of his repertoire as a pass rusher.

For that matter, they’re important to his ability to get his jersey off, something he struggled with after Wednesday’s team picture at Lambeau Field.

So it’s worth wondering how effective he will be when he returns from his broken right thumb given the fact that he said on Wednesday he will need to wear a protective club-like cast. He has been wearing smaller cast since he had surgery on Oct. 7 to repair what was diagnosed as a Bennett’s fracture.

“At this position, too, it’s difficult with one hand,” Matthews said. “I’ll deal with that when I’m able to club it up and come back, but for the time being we’re praying for the best and hoping my body heals up on time and get back out there and help this team out.”

Matthews wouldn’t be the first Packers’ defensive player to play with a club. Safety Morgan Burnett did so for part of the 2011 season, and former Packers defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins did it for part of 2010.

Matthews will have a better idea when he can make his return after he has the pins removed from his thumb on Monday.

At the earliest, Matthews could return for the Nov. 10 game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Matthews had the pins surgically inserted one day after he was injured while sacking Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford in the third quarter of the Packers’ 22-9 victory on Oct. 6.

“I thought I was coming back in during the fourth quarter of the Detroit game,” Matthews said. “But once we got the X-rays, we learned it was a unique fracture, dislocation.”

Matthews said there was no way around playing without surgery.

“These doctors were telling me [what] the possible risks were as well as future life after football as far as my hand and what could happen,” Matthews said. “I definitely would like to push through it. I feel like I could, and I’d be able to. Pain is not an issue for me. It’s more about being smart, and at times I’m not the smartest.”

The Packers haven’t seen a significant drop off in the pass rush without Matthews, who led them with 13 sacks last season. They have 11 sacks in the three games that Matthews has missed.

“They’ve been doing a fantastic job, specifically speaking on defense, getting pressure on the quarterback,” Matthews said.