GREEN BAY, Wis. -- If Clay Matthews has a better showing this Sunday against the New York Jets than he did in last Thursday's season-opening loss to the Seattle Seahawks, here's why: The Green Bay Packers linebacker now knows his twice-surgically repaired right thumb will withstand playing 66 snaps in a regular-season game.
If there's one positive to take away from the opener, it's that Matthews has some piece of mind.
"That is one thing where I can put a little smile on knowing I got a little personal victory [Thursday] in regards to going out and doing everything I wanted to do with no setbacks," Matthews said. "I think that was huge for my psyche. I'm happy about that."
Matthews was on the field for all but four defensive plays in the opener. Playing part of the game in a new position in Dom Capers' 4-3 defense, Matthews lined up off the line of scrimmage and next to inside linebackers Brad Jones and A.J. Hawk, while outside linebackers Julius Peppers and Mike Neal essentially played defensive ends.
It was Matthews' first regular-season action since he broke his right thumb in Week 16 last season against the Pittsburgh Steelers. He also broke the same thumb in Week 5 against the Detroit Lions. Both times he needed surgery.
After wearing a cast and then later a smaller brace when he returned from the first injury last season, Matthews played the opener with nothing more than a tape job underneath the gloves he usually wears.
Matthews would have shared a sack with Peppers near the end of the second quarter, but it was wiped out by a penalty. He was credited with three quarterback hurries in 28 rushes, according to ProFootballFocus.com. He dropped into coverage seven times and allowed two receptions for 22 yards. The rest of the time he played in run support. He was credited with four tackles.