Packers' Matthews vows to play against Bears Sunday
The Sports Xchange
NFL Team Report - Green Bay Packers - INSIDE SLANT
Clay Matthews vowed after practice Thursday that he will be on the field for Sunday's potentially key early-season game at the Chicago Bears.
Matthews had limited work in practice during the week but was listed Friday as probable. He is trying to bounce back from a groin injury that kept him out of the final quarter of a 19-7 loss at the Detroit Lions last Sunday as the Packers fell to 1-2.
When asked by reporters Thursday about his playing status this weekend, Matthews said: "Yeah, I'll be out there."
Matthews, who has just one sack this season, missed both games against the Bears last season because of a broken thumb.
Inside linebacker Brad Jones also had limited participation in practice Thursday for the second straight day. Jones, an opening-day starter, has missed the last two games because of a nagging quadriceps injury.
Jones' status for Sunday's game at Chicago is uncertain. Jamari Lattimore figures to remain in the starting lineup in place of Jones for the third consecutive game.
--The Packers are off to a 1-2 start for the third straight season and the fourth time in Mike McCarthy's nine years as head coach.
This ragged beginning for the reigning three-time NFC North champions is all the more maddening because what has been almost a perennially top-10 offense on McCarthy's watch is spiraling ever so close to rock bottom.
"We're definitely underachieving in the no-huddle," quarterback Aaron Rodgers said Wednesday.
McCarthy has no plans to tone down the frequency of the up-tempo scheme he's predominantly employed the first three weeks of the season. Yet, as the Packers head to Chicago for what looms as a telltale early-season game against their NFC North rivals Sunday, those on the sputtering offense acknowledge their play - and their production - must pick up in a hurry.
When asked what the no-huddle has accomplished to this point, Rodgers responded matter-of-factly, "Not much."
After Rodgers made a declaration in the summer that the objective for the newly revved-up offense was 75 plays a game, the Packers haven't reached the threshold once thus far. The closest it has come to the target was 68 plays in Week 2 against the New York Jets, when Green Bay was forced to accelerate its fast-break playing style to overcome an early 21-3 deficit and win 31-24.
In the season-opening 36-16 loss at the Seattle Seahawks and then the 19-7 setback at the Detroit Lions last Sunday, the Packers managed just 57 and 51 plays, respectively.
"Really, the mechanics has been good - the mechanics of play entry, what's going on at the line of scrimmage each and every week has graded out high," McCarthy said. "Our biggest thing right now is production. Our offense really isn't where we would like it to be. Whether we're in no-huddle or whether we're in what we call standard huddle, mechanically what we're doing I'm comfortable with."
The dreary numbers don't lie, however. The only consistency mustered by Green Bay's offense is ranking in the 20s across the board in the key statistical areas.
The Packers are 28th in total offense (average of 289.3 yards per game), 27th in both rushing offense (78.7 yards) and points scored (18.0) and 21st in passing offense (210.7 yards).
Only once in McCarthy's tenure since 2006 did Green Bay finish the season out of the NFL's top 10 for total offense, when it was 13th in 2012.