GREEN BAY, Wis. -- When is a transition to a new position not really a transition? When it's Clay Matthews moving back to outside linebacker.
The Green Bay Packers have their Pro Bowler back at his natural spot for the first time since midway through the 2014 season, when coach Mike McCarthy deemed it necessary to move Matthews to inside linebacker to help defensive coordinator Dom Capers' struggling run-stopping unit.
They stuck with Matthews at inside linebacker all of last year, but immediately after the season McCarthy declared that Matthews would return to his original spot. Or, as Matthews calls it, his "natural position."
"I think it's my most natural position, my most impactful position," Matthews said Thursday in his first comments of the offseason. "And I think we'll see that on a more consistent basis this season."
Although Matthews said he did not pressure McCarthy to move him back or regret accepting the move in 2014, it was well known that Matthews hoped it would be temporary.
"Clay prefers to play outside," Eliot Wolf, the Packers' director of football operations, said earlier this offseason. "I don't think that's a big secret."
At Thursday's organized team activity and throughout the offseason, Matthews has been working with the outside linebacker group to re-learn his old pass-rushing drills and work in tandem again with fellow outside linebacker, Julius Peppers.
"I don't really look at it as a transition," McCarthy said Thursday. "I mean, he's spent pretty much the majority of his time there and he looks good. We're in the tempo and teaching environment that you survive in this time of year, so -- so far, so good. He looks good."
Despite playing all 16 games last season, Matthews posted only 6.5 sacks -- the second-lowest total of his career.
"I've always tried to be a team player," Matthews said. "I think I kind of exemplified that in making the switch. I don't think many players would do that with the success I'd like to think I had on the outside, but I think it really helped this team out. There were times that, I mean you look statistically where we went as a defense both in rush statistics as well as pass, but I think at the end of the day they see my most natural and most impactful position as a pass-rusher."
It doesn't mean Matthews won't move around in Capers' defense. Even if his first five-plus seasons, Matthews lined up in a variety of spots depending on the situation and regularly dropped into coverage from the outside linebacker spot.
"From the first five and a half years here, I guess I was a true outside linebacker [but] I was still moving around so I don't anticipate that changing at all," Matthews said. "Perhaps it might even help put me back inside on more occasions. We'll see, but right now they have me on the outside with my hand in the dirt."