Clay Matthews' new role in Packers' D comes without much pass rush

Clay Matthews has yet to record a sack this season. Mike McGinnis/Getty Images

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Keep calling Clay Matthews an outside linebacker if you want -- the Green Bay Packers do -- but at this rate, it may be a long time before he returns to that role.

Matthews did not play a single snap at outside linebacker in Sunday's win over the Seattle Seahawks. According to ESPN Stats & Information, all but two of his defensive snaps came at inside linebacker.

It should come as no surprise then that Matthews, who led the Packers with 11 sacks last season, hasn't sniffed a sack yet this year. In two games this year, Matthews has rushed the quarterback on less than 24 percent of his snaps, according to ProFootballFocus.com. He did so on only two of the Packers' 60 defensive snaps in Sunday's win over the Seattle Seahawks.

So what is Matthews' role on this defense?

"I want to see Clay chase after the guy with the football," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Thursday.

It's clear, based on how McCarthy and defensive coordinator Dom Capers used Matthews the first two weeks, they wanted him on keyed in on running backs Matt Forte and Marshawn Lynch. More of the same could be in the works with Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles up next on Monday night at Lambeau Field.

Maybe Capers was just trying to keep the Chiefs guessing, but he insisted this week that Matthews won't always just be an inside linebacker.

"I think that could change from week to week," Capers said.

After losing fellow inside linebacker Sam Barrington to a season-ending foot injury in Week 1, Capers and McCarthy decided to play Matthews inside on a full-time basis against the Seahawks. That meant Nate Palmer, Barrington’s replacement, came off the field in the dime package.

"I don't think we anticipated having our starting inside linebacker go down in Week 1," Matthews said after Sunday's game. "My role on this defense has definitely been adjusted. It's one of those things that it's not about me. It's about the team. You see that with the results that have been put out there. It seems like we're trending in the right direction."

Here's how invaluable depth charts have become: Palmer and rookie Jake Ryan are listed as the two starting inside linebackers, while Matthews and Julius Peppers are the outside backers. Ryan has yet to play a snap on defense, and Mike Neal (who's listed as a backup) has started both games at outside linebacker with Peppers. The Packers added another inside linebacker since Sunday's game, re-signing Joe Thomas, who was cut at the end of the preseason, and perhaps Thomas' addition could free up Matthews to move outside on occasion.

In addition, Matthews also assumed the signal-calling responsibilities, which previously belonged to Barrington. That means Matthews played with the coach-to-player speaker in his helmet for the first time.

"He's done a good job with that," Capers said. "We put a real load on him. If a guy's going to be doing new stuff and that type of stuff, Clay's a guy you normally feel comfortable. He works so hard at it, by the time the game comes around he’s going to have down what you're asking him to do. And that’s not easy to do."