Packers turn to rookie LB Moses with Matthews hurt
(Eds: With AP Photos.)
Greene just doesn't want the star linebacker to be rushed back from a hamstring injury.
"I want Clay back as soon as he is 110 percent healthy," said Greene, the Packers' outside linebackers coach. "I don't want him back with any chance of re-tweaking his injury because he's coming back too soon. I want him back whenever he is 110 percent, and then we plug him in and we truck on."
The Packers (7-4) won't have Matthews for Sunday's game against NFC North rival Minnesota (6-5), listing him as out on Friday's injury report. Matthews, who leads the team with nine sacks, hasn't even been able to practice since reinjuring his left hamstring in Green Bay's win over Arizona on Nov. 4.
"Well, he's making progress, he's just not ready to play in the game," coach Mike McCarthy said.
In Matthews' absence, undrafted rookie Dezman Moses has seized an opportunity to give Green Bay another disruptive pass rusher.
Moses has come up with a sack in each of the last two games, forced a fumble in one and had a team-high 11 tackles in front of dozens of family and friends in the Packers' loss at the New York Giants on Sunday night. His hometown of Willingboro, N.J., is 75 miles from East Rutherford.
"It was nice to see all of my family and refreshing to see those faces and all of the loved ones so proud of me," Moses said.
Moses played every snap on defense Sunday for the first time this season and knocked down a fourth-down pass from the Giants' Eli Manning at the line of scrimmage.
Greene, a dominant pass rusher in a 15-year playing career that yielded the most sacks (160) by a linebacker in NFL history, has been impressed by his young pupil.
"He's not hurting us," Greene said. "He's not drastically costing us in some way. He's making plays."
Moses' three sacks have him tied with Erik Walden, the Packers' other starter at outside linebacker, for second on the team behind Matthews. Moses also recovered a blocked punt by teammate Davon House in the end zone for a touchdown in the Packers' victory over Jacksonville on Oct. 28. It was the first Green Bay score off a blocked punt since 1990.
The 6-foot-2, 249-pound Moses called the last seven months of going undrafted, signing with the Packers as a free agent, making the team out of training camp and becoming an integral player on a defense hit hard by injuries "a true blessing."
"I've been so fortunate," Moses said. "I didn't have too many teams come after me after not being drafted. But Green Bay was the one that decided to pull the trigger and make an offer. And for me, I felt immediately it was the perfect position and place for me to be. I came and I got an opportunity to play and show them what type of player I am, and it's worked out for me."
The New Orleans Saints also had interest in Moses after the draft, but the former Tulane defensive end wasn't keen on them wanting him to play fullback. Moses began his college career as a linebacker at Iowa before transferring to Tulane for his final two years.
"I wanted to play linebacker, I wanted to play defense, and I believed I could," Moses said. "I guess my play is speaking for itself right now."
Defensive coordinator Dom Capers misses Matthews, but said he has been happy to give Moses some experience.
"And like most young guys, the more he plays, the better he gets, the more comfortable, the more confident," Capers said. "I think in the long run it's going to help us."
With the Packers looking to bounce back from their poor performance in their 38-10 loss to the Giants, they are expected to have WR Greg Jennings play Sunday for the first time in two months. Jennings, who is probable for the game, has recovered from surgery earlier this month for a torn abdominal muscle. . Also probable for the game are LT Marshall Newhouse (wrist), DL Ryan Pickett (quadriceps) and S M.D. Jennings (rib), who has been starting for an injured Charles Woodson (collarbone). Starting DE C.J. Wilson was ruled out because of a knee injury he sustained in the last game. .... Veteran WR Donald Driver, who has been hindered by a thumb injury the last several weeks, is questionable after not practicing this week.
Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press
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