Here’s a look at a key matchup heading into the Week Seven battle between the Packers and Vikings.
Packers OLB Clay Matthews vs. Vikings OTs Bryant Mckinnie and Phil Loadholt
Words can’t describe how important Matthews’ expected return to the starting lineup after missing one game is for the Packers’ pass rush, which drops off considerably without his knack for finishing plays and generating nonstop pressure. Green Bay didn’t get to Brett Favre much at all in its two games against the Vikings last year, but Matthews certainly made his presence felt. In the first game, which was also on a national stage, Matthews had a breakthrough performance, separating Vikings RB Adrian Peterson from the ball on one play and rambling 42 yards for a touchdown. And he’s pretty much been on fire ever since then — when he’s been healthy enough to play.
With Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers expected to continue frequently shifting Matthews around, both McKinnie and Loadholt, who each stand 6-foot-8, will be tested by the Packers’ defensive star. McKinnie can dominate when the spirit moves him, but he has always been maddeningly inconsistent and not the most fiery lineman in the league, and he has had his share of problems matched up against big-time sackers like Matthews. Loadholt has rare strength and an All-World wingspan (36 1/4 inch arms), but he is still considered a work in progress with marginal footwork.