In a game the Green Bay Packers had to have, the team’s defense stepped up and provided a boost. Unfortunately, the defense may have lost their biggest weapon.
Late in the second half of yesterday’s game against the Detroit Lions, Packers Pro Bowl linebacker Clay Matthews sacked Matthew Stafford and did exactly what everyone expects him to do. However, after the play, TV cameras caught Matthews running into the locker room with a trainer before the game ended. After the game, it was reported that Matthews broke his thumb and if it requires surgery, he may miss several weeks.
Matthews’s injury will be a blow to a defense that has played much better this season and has finally started to get pressure on opposing quarterbacks. His presence (if he misses time) will be missed, but don’t expect this defense to be completely depleted. If he were to miss time, the Packers need to expect players such as Jamari Lattimore, Nate Palmer and Robert Francois to step up and make plays.
Lattimore is a third-year man from Middle Tennessee State who has proved that he can play in the past. Last year, Lattimore played in 14 games and played well. Along with Lattimore, Francois is a veteran who has played sparingly at times but when he was on the field, he’s made some type of impact.
Francois played in all 16 games last season and tallied 13 tackles for the Packers. He has been with the team for four seasons and if Matthews is out for any amount of time, expect Francois to step up in a big way.
There is no question that not having Matthews will hurt the Packers’ defense, but with the youth and depth at linebacker, I believe guys will play hard as replacements and make enough plays on the defensive side of the ball.
Packers fans can also expect young players like Nick Perry, AJ Hawk and Datone Jones to take on an even bigger role. Many analysts will doubt the defense without Matthews, so expect Perry, Hawk and Jones to take that personally and come out next week against the Baltimore Ravens with a fire in their guts to prove to everyone they can make plays too.