NFL Wire News

Packers’ Matthews more receptive of move to ILB


The Sports Xchange

GREEN BAY, Wis. — When Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy talked about yet another position for All-Pro outside linebacker Clay Matthews this week, he was joking. Right?

“Wait till you see him play nose guard,” McCarthy said as Matthews lined up exclusively at inside linebacker during this week’s OTAs.

But it is no joke that Matthews is much more receptive to moving around in coordinator Dom Capers’ exotic defensive packages. Matthews acknowledged that he was lukewarm to being shifted inside on occasion the second half of last season, but he now recognizes how the move elevated his performance as he had 9 1/2 of his team-high 12 sacks in the last 10 games, including the playoffs.

“I think the success speaks for itself,” Matthews said. “Obviously, if I didn’t have as much success, it would probably be a different story. But the fact I’m still able to get after the quarterback, create pressure, turnovers, TFLs (tackles for loss), whatever it may be, obviously helps with the transition. It helps the defense as well.”

McCarthy and Capers, however, haven’t committed to rebranding Matthews as a full-time inside linebacker as they look to replace veterans A.J. Hawk and Brad Jones, who were cut early in the offseason.

Promising third-year player Sam Barrington held down one of the two starting spots inside down the stretch last season, and Green Bay took former Michigan standout Jake Ryan in the fourth round of this year’s draft.

“Clay’s going to be playing a lot of different spots,” Capers said. “We liked the way he finished up the season. We thought he made a big impact on our defense. We were still able to involve him rushing the passer.

“So that’s going to be a fluid state. He has the ability to play inside and outside, and wherever our greatest need is at that point in time is probably where Clay will be.”

–Veteran defensive tackle Letroy Guion not only is grateful for receiving a second chance from the Packers, but he apologized to their loyal and extensive fan base.

Green Bay re-signed Guion to a one-year contract in late March in the wake of his early February arrest for drug charges near his Florida home.

“It means a lot to me,” Guion said. “The organization cares about me, believes in me. I’m glad they stuck behind me. I just want to turn the chapter.”

Moving on for Guion, who reached a plea deal to have the charges dismissed, included extending an olive branch to Packers backers.

“I apologize for what happened in the offseason,” Guion said. “I appreciate all of the people who support me and stood behind me … thank you very much.”

Guion had his most productive season in his seven years as a pro after he came to Green Bay as a free agent last year from the NFC North rival Minnesota Vikings. Guion had 62 tackles and 3 1/2 sacks, both career highs, as he started every game with nose tackle B.J. Raji out the entire season because of a torn biceps.

Green Bay also re-signed a healthy Raji, a first-round pick in the 2009 draft, to a one-year deal in March.

–The Packers continue with OTAs the next two weeks from June 2-4 and 9-12. Their mandatory minicamp is June 16-18.

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