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Pregame warmup: Clay Matthews, Jared Cook return to action

Plus updates on the weather and the NFC North race


LANDOVER, Md. -- The Packers haven't seen LB Clay Matthews since their last win, on Thursday, Oct. 20, vs. the Bears. They haven't seen TE Jared Cook since three weeks before that.

Both veterans are active for Sunday night's game at FedExField against the Redskins after being questionable on the injury report.

The Packers haven't won a game over these last three weeks that Matthews has missed with his hamstring injury, and they are 1-3 overall with Matthews out. Green Bay won in Week 3 against Detroit when Matthews was initially sidelined. That was also the week that Cook went down with an ankle injury, and he hasn't played since.

The return of both is welcome news for a Packers team that needs to turn things around. The defense has struggled in Matthews' absence, allowing 30 points or more in each of the last three games. The offense has received minimal production from the tight end position, and the Packers were just starting to get Cook more involved back in September when he went down.

Packers fans will still have to wait for the Green Bay debut of new RB Christine Michael, though. He is inactive for tonight's game.

Cold and windy: It won't be a very nice night for football in the nation's capital. At kickoff, temperatures are expected to be in the mid-30s with wind chills in the mid-20s and winds 20 mph or more.

A key storyline could be how much the wind affects the passing games for both teams. Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy has said in the past the weather element that can have the biggest affects on throwing the ball -- moreso than cold, snow or rain -- is wind.

NFC North update: The Packers have to won tonight in order to stay one game back of the leaders in the division.

Both Detroit and Minnesota improved to 6-4 earlier Sunday with victories over Jacksonville and Arizona, respectively. The Lions and Vikings play one another in four days on Thanksgiving in Detroit, so one of them will be 7-4 with five games remaining.

NFL debut: Packers LB Carl Bradford is active on gameday for the first time in his three years with Green Bay. A fourth-round draft pick in 2014, Bradford was a gameday inactive his entire rookie season, and then he spent all of last year and the first half of this season on the practice squad.

The ankle injury to Jake Ryan led to Bradford's promotion to the active roster on Saturday, and the former Arizona State pass rusher who transitioned to inside linebacker with the Packers will likely see his first NFL regular-season action on special teams.

Familiar face: Also on Saturday, the Redskins signed Rick Lovato to be their long-snapper in place of the injured Nick Sundberg. Lovato was with the Packers late last season after Brett Goode injured his knee, and he remained with Green Bay throughout the offseason and training camp before being released after the preseason when Goode returned.

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