September 13, 2013

No apology after Packers linebacker's late takedown of quarterback

Blasted for a late hit on Colin Kaepernick, Clay Matthews says he's 'awesome,' not dirty.

The Associated Press

GREEN BAY, Wis. - It's hard for the Packers' Clay Matthews to let things go on the field. Give the Pro Bowl linebacker a clear path to a quarterback or running back and he'll usually lock on for a takedown.

click image to enlarge

Green Bay linebacker Clay Matthews, right, mixes it up with San Francisco’s Joe Staley after hitting quarterback Colin Kaepernick late in last Sunday’s season opener.

The Associated Press

But as far as that 49ers game last week and Coach Jim Harbaugh's criticism? Yeah, Matthews is moving on.

In his first meeting with reporters since Sunday's 34-28 loss in San Francisco, Matthews sidestepped a question on whether he'd received notice from the NFL about a potential fine following a late hit on quarterback Colin Kaepernick that preceded a sideline scrum with offensive lineman Joe Staley.

"Um, I'm not really going to discuss all that right now, but on to the next game," Matthews said after practice Thursday. The Redskins visit Lambeau Field on Sunday.

Matthews didn't bite after being asked about Harbaugh's remarks earlier this week.

"If you're going to go to the face, come with some knuckles, not an open slap," Harbaugh said then. "I think if that young man works very hard on being a tough guy, he'll have some repairing to do to his image after the slap."

Anything, Clay?

"Nah, I don't have any reaction. I'm on to the next game," he said. "I'm not worried about it."

Matthews was asked if he considered himself a "dirty player."

"Next game!" he exclaimed with a smile, drawing laughs. "I'm an awesome player, not a dirty player."

Coach Mike McCarthy had his best defensive player's back this week. He even brought up Harbaugh's remarks in a team meeting.

"Clay Matthews is not a dirty player, by no means," McCarthy said Monday. "So I addressed Harbaugh's comments in the team meeting, and as always, we'll stay above it."

McCarthy has long moved on to preparing for Washington and the second game back from a right knee injury for quarterback Robert Griffin III. While Griffin may have looked a little rusty in Monday night's 33-27 loss to the Eagles, Matthews is paying him the utmost respect.

"Did you watch the second half of that game? Yeah, he looked pretty good," Matthews said. "He still possesses that big playmaking ability."

The Packers did limit San Francisco on the ground. Kaepernick and Frank Gore were held in check on the ground for the most part. Kaepernick beat the Packers with his arm this time, throwing for 412 yards and three touchdowns.

Griffin didn't run a zone read once against the Eagles, though it doesn't mean the Packers aren't going to prepare for it.

"This week is no different. We let him sit back there in the pocket, we need to make sure we've got some pass rush after him as well as our DBs on the back end covering and tackling," Matthews said. "We need to make sure we're aggressive and we shut down that read-option right off the bat."

Aggressive to a point, of course. When asked, Matthews could remember only one time in his career when he was fined, for a facemask on Bears quarterback Jay Cutler in 2010.

Otherwise, the resume is clean -- look it up, he told reporters.

"That's for you guys to dig up. I think I'm doing all right," Matthews said. "Come on, Washington questions, you guys bring 'em!"

 

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