- Rob Demovsky, ESPN Staff Writer
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GREEN BAY, Wis. -- When the Green Bay Packers report for the offseason program on Tuesday, don't expect linebacker Clay Matthews to put his twice-broken right thumb through any vigorous work right away.
But when training camp begins in July -- and more importantly when the regular season kicks off in September -- Matthews does not expect there to be any issues.
In an interview with USA Today's Tom Pelissero, Matthews said he expects his thumb to be a non-issue going forward.
"It's been getting better, so I have no doubt," Matthews said. "Obviously, OTAs will probably be one thing. I can't imagine I'll be too heavily involved with some of the stuff. I'm sure I can do stuff here and there."
But when training camp opens?
"I'll be ready," Matthews said.
For the first time, he revealed exactly what happened following his second injury, which occurred on Dec. 22 when he sacked Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Matthews had returned from the first break, called a Bennett's fracture, six weeks earlier against the Philadelphia Eagles -- a game he called "by far my worst professional game, but there was a legitimate excuse" -- and after wearing a club cast that left him ineffective for that game, he opted for a much smaller cast.
All was well until his thumb hit the helmet of teammate Mike Neal on the way to sacking Roethlisberger.
Rather than opting for the same surgery that he had when he first broke his thumb on Oct. 6 against the Detroit Lions, he went with something different.
"It's called a tendon transfer," Matthews said. "I broke it [the first time], and they did a closed-pin reduction. [The thumb] was dislocated, so they put it back in there. The bones line up, but it was a real small piece of the bone. So, everything was fine. I was coming out, I was working hard, and I was in a cast.
"And unfortunately, on a sack of Roethlisberger, the tip of my thumb [hit] my teammate's helmet. All that pressure went down the cast, broke it again. So then, to make it tighter, we took part of the tendon, turned it around, drilled some holes and they almost tied a knot through. It's stronger than [the left one]. Now it's super tight."
The Packers kept Matthews on the active roster for the playoffs, hoping he could return if they made a Super Bowl run.
Matthews estimated that his thumb is "about 75, 80% of where it needs to be."
"It's getting there," he said. "By the time the season rolls around, it'll be fine. I'm optimistic about it. I mean, I've never heard of a career-ending thumb injury, but no one had heard of a Bennett's fracture when I had done that."
22hEric D. Williams
20hEric D. Williams