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PFW executive editor and resident Packers expert Dan Arkush presents the third of five key matchups in the Packers' Week 10 game Monday night against the Vikings at Lambeau Field.
Vikings OTs Charlie Johnson and Phil Loadholt vs. Packers OLBs Clay Matthews and Erik Walden
The Packers were hoping that second-year pro Frank Zombo, who has been out much of the season with injuries, would bolster what up to now has been a very inconsistent pass rush by splitting time with Walden on the right side, which would keep both players fresher for potential kill shots. But Zombo suffered a left hamstring injury vs. San Diego and is not expected to play Monday night against Minnesota.
That might not be all that bad a development, considering how jacked up Walden was against the Chargers, in great part, team insiders tell us, because he was not overjoyed with the prospect of a time-share situation with Zombo. Walden played his best game of the season against San Diego, consistently overwhelming San Diego OLT Marcus McNeill in the process of registering a career-high 4½ pressures, a sack, two tackles for loss and a pass breakup.
Walden will be trying to keep up the good work matched up primarily with Johnson, a former four-year starter for the Colts who is a more athletic left tackle than the departed Bryant McKinnie but not nearly as imposing physically. At right tackle for the Vikings, there's no denying the physical presence of the massive 6-8, 343-pound Loadholt. But Matthews, who had arguably his best game of the season when he went up against mostly Loadholt on Oct. 23 (a sack, a knockdown and a pass breakup despite being double-teamed a little more than 50 percent of the time), could have an edge because of Loadholt's major problems pass-blocking against movement. Loadholt also lacks consistent power and aggressiveness for a player so big and has a tendency to be undisciplined.