Packers declare Clay Matthews out against Titans

Posted by Wes Hodkiewicz on November 11, 2016 – 10:06 am

161111-matthews-950GREEN BAY — Clay Matthews will miss his third consecutive game against the Tennessee Titans on Sunday due a hamstring injury, Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy confirmed Friday morning.

While Matthews won’t be available, McCarthy said he doesn’t have any long-term concern regarding Matthews’ hamstring, which flared up again late last week.

“I had a chance to talk with Clay (on Thursday),” McCarthy said. “He’s making progress, (but) just won’t be available this week.”

Matthews’ hamstring issues began in Week 2 against Minnesota, causing him to sit out of the Packers’ home-opener against Detroit on Sept. 25.

He returned after the Packers’ Week 4 bye week to start the next three games before experiencing tightness near end of the Packers’ 26-10 win over Chicago on Oct. 20.

Matthews practiced last week and appeared to be nearing a return before experiencing a setback last Friday and sitting out of Sunday’s 31-26 loss to Indianapolis.

The six-time Pro Bowl linebacker has 13 tackles and three sacks in five games this season. With Matthews out, the Packers will again turn to Nick Perry and Julius Peppers to keep pressure on Tennessee quarterback Marcus Mariota.

McCarthy didn’t make any other declarations on the team’s injured players, but said tight end Jared Cook (ankle), and running back James Starks (knee) and cornerback Damarious Randall (groin) continue to make progress after participating in Thursday’s padded practice.

“James is very close and we’ll see how Jared is come Saturday,” McCarthy said.

McCarthy added that receiver Randall Cobb should be a full go Sunday against the Titans. Cobb played only in the second half against the Colts due to a hamstring injury that sidelined him a week earlier against Atlanta.

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On facing Titans QB Marcus Mariota: ‘We have to plaster our coverage’

Posted by Mike Spofford on November 10, 2016 – 5:53 pm

161110-mariota-950GREEN BAY — The Packers’ coordinators and defensive assistant coaches met with the media after practice late Thursday afternoon. Here’s a sampling of their comments.

Special teams coordinator Ron Zook
(on what FB Joe Kerridge could bring to the units)

“He’s an athletic guy.  He’s a sharp, intelligent guy. We’re trying to work him in there. The last couple days he’s done a nice job. You do so much in camp, and it’s hard to make that stuff up, but I’m looking forward to getting him on the field.”

(on changes with the Titans since they switched special teams coaches)

“Haven’t seen a whole lot of difference in terms of the things that they call. It’s hard in the middle of the season to change your philosophy.”

(on having the right personnel)

“We’ve had a couple bad plays, like anybody in the NFL has, but I don’t think it has anything to do with the size of our guys.

“Let’s take care of us. Let’s do the things we have to do. This is the time later in the year where your time gets cut back a little bit (in practice). You have to see the looks that you’re going to see in the game.”

Offensive coordinator Edgar Bennett
(on possibly getting TE Jared Cook back)

“He was explosive, provided some play-making abilities. He’s coming along.”

(on using so many different personnel groupings)

“You see a lot of new faces out there, and you see them have an opportunity. Each and every week, there could be a different personnel grouping, and guys are excited about that.”

(on tackles David Bakhtiari and Bryan Bulaga)

“You talk about being consistent, and those guys have done that. We have to continue to do that moving forward.”

(on FB Aaron Ripkowski)

“You see him playing with an attitude.”

Defensive coordinator Dom Capers
(on Tennessee’s ground game)

“They’ve got a strong commitment to the running game, and they’ve got good people blocking up front. They’re inside guys are all fighters, they’re maulers. They play with three tight ends at times.”

(on RB DeMarco Murray)

“Murray is a big, physical guy. He’ll take the ball anywhere. If things are clogged up inside, he’ll take it outside on the perimeter. They have a number of things they challenge you with to get the ball on the perimeter. They put a premium on you communicating, because you’re changing your calls.”

(on making a statement with run defense)

“I think we just want to go in and play well. We know it’s going to start with stopping the run. They’re very efficient at what they do. They’re very good on third down, because they have a lot of third-and-1, third-and-2, not a lot of third-and-longs.”

(on their play-action game)

“You’ve got a running back and a tight end who are your two leading receivers. A lot of that is the play-action game.”

Associate head coach/linebackers Winston Moss
(on Nick Perry’s season)

“We’ve always known Nick is a very intelligent, very tough-minded guy. Once we felt he got through the offseason OK and his mindset was in the right place, there was an anticipation. We’re halfway through the season. He’s been very steady, very solid, and we’re looking for him to stay healthy and finish strong.”

(on Clay Matthews’ absence)

“I think the defense misses Clay Matthews. Clay is a playmaker. Clay is disruptive in the run and the pass. We’re looking forward to him getting back. He’s part of the puzzle that helps this defense win.”

(on the run defense)

“We feel very good about our ability to stop the run. We feel we can line up and play anybody, but we have to play well.”

Defensive line coach Mike Trgovac
(on playing run defense vs. Tennessee)

“If you get too caught up in all the shifts and all the motions …. If you let that stuff get to you, you’ll see a steady dose of it. You just have to calm down and play football. You have to stay sound. Just settle down, stay poised, and play your techniques.”

Assistant linebackers coach Scott McCurley
(on run defense vs. Tennessee)

“They do a good job of presenting new problems every week, new looks for you. You have to make sure your checks are on point, your communication is on point, read your keys. Because if you’re behind … your eyes probably won’t be right and you’ll be behind on the play.”

(on RB Murray and TE Walker in the passing game)

“The quarterback does a great job getting to his checkdowns. You have to respect their ability in the pass game. It becomes more difficult when you get the run action and releases by tight ends. It’ll be a great challenge to stop the run and defend those two in the pass game.”

(on LB Jake Ryan)

“He’s playing faster.”

Cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt Jr.
(on facing QB Mariota and his running ability)

“We have to be able to plaster our coverage. He can create time with his legs. He has a rocket arm. He can throw on the run. We have to make sure when the down is extended we stay close to our coverage. I don’t know if we’ve seen a quarterback who can quite move like this guy. I don’t think we’ve faced this type of guy this year.”

(on Gunter’s season)

“I look at ‘Gunt’ and I think this. He’s a guy that came into the year as the 4. He’s been thrust into the role not only where he’s the 1 but we’ve matched him. You want to show you’re deserving of the role. He wants to show he can be the guy, but there’s some growing pains. It’s different being the 4 and being the 1. I think he’s learning from the mistakes he has made. He’s been targeted more. For the most part, I’ve been pleased with the way he’s handled the challenge, and I’m excited to see him play this week.”

Safeties coach Darren Perry
(on Clinton-Dix’s good plays, bad play vs. Colts)

“Just like most competitors, guys that play in this league, you have a tendency to remember the bad plays, and that’s normal. We’ll learn from it, and I think the next time we get an opportunity, the results will be different.”

(on Brice)

“He still has a ways to go. He does some good things, and he’s flashed, and I love his physicality, but he’s still a rookie. Every day is a learning experience for him. He’s working hard, not making excuses. We’re pushing him, he’s pushing himself. You see things that you like. We’ll keep coaching him up and keep grinding.”

(on Brice’s physicality)

“He’s got the ability to knock people back. That play in Atlanta, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen that, the way he defied the law of gravity you could say. I’ve seen guys turn that play down. To me that was one of the most impressive plays I’ve seen in quite some time. Just the effort and the will. A lot of guys would concede that play.”


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Packers focus on getting Jared Cook healthy

Posted by Wes Hodkiewicz on November 10, 2016 – 11:02 am

161110-cook-950GREEN BAY — Tight end Jared Cook continues to make progress with the ankle injury that’s sidelined him for the past five games.

Cook returned to practice last Thursday, but sat out of Sunday’s game against Indianapolis. He had six catches for 53 yards to start the season before injuring his ankle against Detroit on Sept. 25.

While Cook’s status for Sunday’s game against Tennessee is still up in the air, Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy has been encouraged by what he’s seen from the eighth-year tight end in his first week back at practice.

“It’s to get to the point where he’s practicing and exercising the game plan,” McCarthy said. “Obviously, he played good football for us there early. It would be great to get him healthy is really the focus.”

McCarthy said the team plans to increase the workload of Cook and running back James Starks (knee) during Thursday morning’s padded practice at Clarke Hinkle Field.

Starks has missed the last four games after undergoing a procedure on his knee.

McCarthy also said linebacker Clay Matthews will be a part of the rehab program on Thursday. Matthews was making progress with his injured hamstring before suffering a setback on Friday and missing Sunday’s game against the Colts.

“Hopefully, he’ll do more today,” McCarthy said. “Today will tell us a lot based on how much he goes. He’s scheduled to be in the early prehab group.”

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Mike McCarthy: ‘Our guys will bring it’

Posted by Mike Spofford on November 9, 2016 – 11:57 am

161109-mccarthy-950GREEN BAY — Mike McCarthy doesn’t believe motivation will be a problem for the Packers on Sunday at Tennessee.

Before practice on Wednesday, McCarthy was asked about his team’s sense of urgency for this game at 4-4, and he reiterated that the lack of energy comments from last week’s loss to the Colts were not intended to be a “blanket statement” regarding his team’s effort.

“We’ll play with great energy Sunday. That’s not a concern of mine,” McCarthy said. “It’s a road game, so we have that challenge. Our guys will bring it.

“We’re just paying attention to what matters and it’s about improvement. We had a really good week of practice last week … but the first part is preparation and the last part is performance. We have to learn from last week.”

On the health front, McCarthy said both RB James Starks and TE Jared Cook would continue practicing on a limited basis, with Thursday’s upcoming padded work providing the true indicator of where they are. McCarthy did not have a read on LB Clay Matthews and his hamstring yet for this week.

The key matchup on Sunday could be the Titans’ running game against the Packers’ run defense. Tennessee is ranked No. 3 in the league in rushing, with RB DeMarco Murray second in rushing yards behind Dallas’ Exekiel Elliott. The Packers are ranked No. 1 in the league against the run.

“It’s going to be a hell of an afternoon,” McCarthy said. “We don’t play these guys (often), there’s a lot of newness. Our guys will hit the video harder than they ever have this week.” will have more following practice and locker room interviews.

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