GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The Green Bay Packers are holding out hope that linebacker Clay Matthews can return this season from his second thumb surgery, but they will have to advance in the playoffs for that to happen.
Matthews won't play in Sunday's NFC wild-card game against the San Francisco 49ers. He was ruled out Monday after undergoing surgery last week.
The four-time Pro Bowl linebacker first broke his right thumb Oct. 6 against the Detroit Lions. He had surgery the next day to insert stabilizing pins and missed four games. When he returned Nov. 10 against the Philadelphia Eagles, he wore a giant club cast that covered his entire right hand, but the next week, he wore a much smaller cast.
He reinjured the thumb Dec. 22 on a sack of Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and needed another surgery. He missed this past Sunday's 33-28 win over the Chicago Bears that gave the Packers the NFC North title and sent them to the playoffs as the No. 4 seed.
"I really don't have a feel for Clay as far as where he is," coach Mike McCarthy said before ruling him out this week. "I really haven't even seen him to talk to him. You're always cautious with players after surgery. That's why he didn't travel with the team [to Chicago], so I really don't have an update for you."
In the Week 1 game against the 49ers, Matthews was penalized for a late hit on quarterback Colin Kaepernick that started a scuffle on the sideline. Matthews was fined $15,000 for the hit but later had that cut in half on appeal.