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PFW executive editor and resident Packers expert Dan Arkush presents the third of five key matchups this week in advance of the Packers' Week Four game against the Broncos at Lambeau Field Sunday.
Broncos OTs Ryan Clady and Orlando Franklin vs. Packers LOLB Clay Matthews
It's hard to ignore the fact that Matthews, the reigning PFW/PFWA Defensive MVP, has only one sack through three games after registering six sacks through three games in 2010 on the way to a spectacular 17-sack campaign (including the playoffs). He has been limited in practice by a quad injury, but it certainly didn't appear to impede him last week against the Bears, when he had about as good a defensive performance as a player could have without making a sack.
A constant presence who appeared to wear out the Bears' blockers in the fourth quarter, Matthews had four QB hurries, 3½ knockdowns and 2½ tackles for loss, including one tackle behind the line of scrimmage on Bears RB Matt Forté's first carry that set the tone for a great effort by Green Bay's run defense.
Expected to move around and pick his spots as usual, Matthews is likely to contend with both the 6-6, 315-pound Clady on the left side and the 6-5½, 330-pound Franklin on the right side. When healthy, Clady is arguably the most talented player in Denver's offense. But the former 12th pick in the 2008 draft hasn't been quite the same player since suffering a major knee injury in the '09 offseason. Long-armed and nimble, Clady tends to play soft and, at times, has trouble handling power rushes.
Franklin, the team's second-round pick replacing Ryan Harris, who signed with the Eagles, is big and strong but is going through his share of growing pains. He plays with tenacity and tries to bury defenders in the ground, but his technique is inconsistent, as he has a tendency to rely too much on his natural strength.
It will be interesting to see if the Broncos' concentration on stopping Matthews once again opens up sack opportunities for Packers DE Jarius Wynn, who registered a pair of sacks against the Bears