Posted by Ryan Wilson
It's yet more proof that Packers linebacker Clay Matthews should've won NFL Defensive Player of the Year honors over Troy Polamalu last season*. According to the Green Bay Press-Gazette's Rob Demovsky, Matthews, who missed all four 2010 preseason games with a balky hammy, played the second half of the year with a stress fracture in his lower leg.
"That would explain why Matthews was listed on every injury report from Week 9 through the NFC championship game as probable with a shin injury," Demovsky wrote Wednesday.
It may also explain why Matthews' only registered four sacks in the final eight games after racking up 10 the first half of the season (another explanation: offenses started double-teaming him in passing situations). Either way, Matthews looked plenty healthy in the Super Bowl (he wasn't listed on the injury report), and he caused a key second-half Rashard Mendenhall fumble to stall a Steelers drive.
“I don’t make a big deal of it,” Matthews told the Press-Gazette Tuesday. “(It happened) some time in the middle of the season. You can’t do anything about it. I was just taking practices off and showing up on game day and giving it my all.”
Demovsky points out that Matthews only mentioned the injury because he was asked about the loss of defensive end Cullen Jenkins, who signed with the Eagles this offseason. In 2010, Matthews had 14 sacks in the 15 games Cullen played. In the five games Cullen missed, Matthews managed just three sacks.
“I also had a stress fracture in four of those games,” Matthews said. “But nobody knows that. I had a stress fracture in my leg. A sore shin as you guys call it, but that’s all right. Obviously, I’m not making excuses. Cullen is a terrific athlete, and we’re definitely going to take a hit in our defensive line, but at the same time I think they have confidence in the guys coming up.”
Whether Matthews has two good wheels or has to peg-leg his way to a quarterback sack, we don't expect much to change. He seems unaffected by pain, which can only mean one thing: Matthews' strength comes from his hair.
* We're kidding -- both Matthew and Polamalu were worthy of the award, and both players, it turns out, were injured for stretches last season.
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