GREEN BAY –
He was a key cog in both the Packers’ championship defense in the 2010 season and the unit that throttled Seattle for 56 minutes in the 2014 NFC title game.
Getting back to a Super Bowl will require that level of defense in Green Bay again, and Matthews believes his side of the ball is overdue to come through.
The process starts now, and Matthews likes a few things working in the Packers’ favor.
For one, he’s healthy again after an injury-riddled 2016 that saw him record a career-low five sacks. Matthews missed four of the season’s first nine games and then played through a difficult shoulder injury over the final six games plus the playoffs.
The shoulder didn’t need surgery, which was a plus, and he’s feeling much like he did three years ago after recovering from a twice-broken thumb and rebounding with an 11-sack season.
“It definitely was rough,” Matthews said of last season. “I feel great. Unfortunately, the shoulder wasn’t going to heal up until I had a full offseason to recover. It’s as close to 100 (percent) as I can ask for.
“I’m really eager and kind of champing at the bit to get back out there, show my worth and finally have some health on my side.”
He’s also thrilled the Packers re-signed
“I just had this conversation with Nick when we got into town,” Matthews said. “Nick had an exceptional year last year, and I was bit by the injury bug. I’ve had years I’ve gotten after the quarterback and he hasn’t been able to finish the season.
“If you’re able to put us together, I think the possibilities are very great. It’s obviously a volatile position, but … hopefully we can be what Ted and everyone envisioned for us.”
Improvement from younger players will be paramount at cornerback as well after Atlanta’s passing game overwhelmed Green Bay’s defense in the decisive NFC title game.
All three veteran defensive players who spoke to reporters on Tuesday – Matthews, defensive lineman
“Definitely,” Daniels said. “They were hurt. Everybody was hurt, and people tend to forget that. Everybody has taken this offseason to get healthy. We saw some great things out of these guys when they were rookies, and you’d like to think they made a significant jump from last year to now.”
The return of veteran corner
A sense of urgency certainly exists.
“Obviously we didn’t finish where we needed to, and that’s a joint effort with not only the DBs but the pass rush,” Matthews said. “But we have a lot of optimism heading into this year with our entire defense, and I think you need to.
“We’re not getting any younger,” Matthews continued, speaking about players like him, Rodgers and