Packers pass rush help has Clay Matthews on the move
By Pete Dougherty, Green Bay Press-Gazette
~GREEN BAY – Clay Matthews’ move to right outside linebacker could mean he’ll actually be lining up in various positions across the defensive line even more than he had his first three seasons in the NFL.
The Packers selected Nick Perry in the first round of the draft last month and are playing him at left outside linebacker, which was Matthews’ position the last two years.
Matthews thus is moving to right outside linebacker, his position as a rookie in 2009. Matthews made the change Tuesday at the Packers’ first organized team activities practice.
“I feel good,” Matthews said about switching sides. “Obviously with Nick coming in here and bringing a presence off the edge, it’s only going to help us out. The misnomer about the position is we’re stuck to one side. On paper it’s going to say left outside linebacker (for Perry), but really those positions are interchangeable. So the faster we can get him up to speed, the faster we can have some fun moving around, flying around, make some plays together.”
A staple of coordinator Dom Capers’ defensive scheme is to line up his best pass rushers at various positions to create mismatches and uncertainty for the offense. Over the last three years, Capers has moved around Matthews more than any other player in his front seven. But having a more dynamic rusher opposite Matthews might allow him to move more now.
“I hope so. That’s the plan,” Matthews said. “It’s all about mismatches and preferable lineups. Whenever we can take advantage of that, playing on the right side, left side, middle, wherever you want me to play, we’re all about that, so I hope that’s the case.”
Said coach Mike McCarthy: “We want to make sure we create targeting problems with Clay Matthews. But just like any young player, you do want to have a starting point, and right now we want to look and see how comfortable Nick is on the left side.”
Matthews also said the Packers got the defense’s attention when they selected defensive players with their first six selections in this year’s draft.
“I think it says something,” Matthews said. “Obviously when you have a No. 1 or 2 offense, whatever it is, and your defense finishes last – that’s what we’re trying to address through free agency and the draft, and from what I could see today and through (individual position workouts), we’ve got some playmakers. So we’re looking forward to getting them up to speed and acclimated.”
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