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PFW executive editor and resident Packers expert Dan Arkush presents the third of five key matchups in the Packers' Week Eight game this Sunday against the Chargers in San Diego.
Packers OLBs Clay Matthews, Erik Walden and Frank Zombo vs. Chargers OTs Marcus McNeill and Jeromey Clary
The Packers have to start generating much more of a pass rush beyond what Matthews provides, and they should benefit Sunday from going up against a Chargers OT tandem that has hardly set the world on fire, particularly on the left side, where McNeill toils. Formerly considered an elite talent, McNeill is having an awful year, as evidenced by his ghastly performance this past Monday night in the loss to the Chiefs. McNeill drew six penalties and had major problems along with Clary of stopping Kansas City ROLB Tamba Hali, who registered a pair of sacks.
Look for a different dynamic on the right side from the Packers, with Erik Walden and Frank Zombo, coming off his latest injury, likely to split time. There's reason to believe the fresher Walden and Zombo stay, the more effective they will be. Walden has only one sack in the first seven games. Zombo, who has shown some definite pass-rush ability (five sacks last season), missed the first five games with a shoulder injury before injuring his knee against the Rams. He participated fully in Wednesday's practice, while Matthews (quadriceps) participated on a limited basis — a good sign since previously this year he had not practiced on Wednesday. Don't be surprised if, in this game, the Packers shift Matthews more from side to side than they have been doing.
The 6-7½, 336-pound McNeill has all the tools, but a neck injury appears to have really thrown him for a loop, and he looks out of shape. The 6-6. 320-pound Clary is a five-year starter who has proven to be very durable and dependable — reason enough for the Chargers to make his re-signing this past summer a priority.