Eagles Notebook: Eagles' Matthews expects Packers' Matthews to play

Posted: November 08, 2013

CASEY MATTHEWS thinks his brother is playing this week, he said yesterday.

Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy would venture only that Clay Matthews "went through the normal reps" in yesterday's practice, when McCarthy spoke with Philadelphia-area reporters in an evening conference call. "We'll see how the week goes," McCarthy said.

Told of Casey's opinion, McCarthy said: "That's pretty good information."

Clay Matthews, the Packers' four-time Pro Bowl linebacker, one of the NFL's most recognizable stars, broke his right thumb Oct. 6 against the Lions and underwent surgery. He got the pins out on Monday, before the Packers' loss to the Bears.

In Philadelphia, Casey Matthews has labored to live up to comparisons with his brother; some fans thought they were getting a dominant linebacker when Casey was drafted in the fourth round in 2011, even though Clay Matthews had been a first-round pick of the Pack, and most draft analysts saw Casey as what he now seems to have become - a decent backup and good special-teams guy.

It didn't help any that then-defensive coordinator Juan Castillo decided Casey would be his starting middle linebacker as a rookie, with no offseason prep because of the NFL lockout, on the strength of his "good bloodlines."

Casey became the sixth member of the Matthews family to play in the NFL, including his father, Clay Jr., and grandfather, Clay Sr. His uncle Bruce is in the Hall of Fame. What's it like carrying the weight of that legacy, and especially being unfavorably compared to your brother?

"Obviously, you want to get to that level. You're going to put in the work. Even with the offseason, with Clay so much, we're working out, we live together - just anything he does, he's been successful. I try to take anything he does and learn from it, apply it to [my] own game," Casey said yesterday. "It just takes some people a little longer."

He said it was "weird at first" watching TV and seeing one of his brother's commercials pop up - for Fathead decals, Chunky Soup or shampoo. "He has some pretty funny commercials . . . You watch him and how he's progressed with the commercials, he just gets more comfortable."

Casey said football does not dominate family conversation in the offseason.

"We try to stay away from football," he said. "My dad, he's the one who wants to talk football the most. He always asks what you're doing, asks about the play . . . not just 'Good play,' he wants to know what everyone's doing on the field."

His father "didn't force football on us. We chose it," Casey said. "He did a good job of keeping us from having to deal with the pressure of the Matthews last name."

Casey said his parents usually attend whichever son's game is a home game (so they presumably haven't seen the Eagles win lately). Some weeks they just stay home in California and watch both sons on TV, he said.

"I said they can wear Eagles jerseys with a Packer undershirt" in Green Bay this weekend, Casey said.

Clay Matthews' return would be welcome news for Green Bay, which lost quarterback Aaron Rodgers to a broken collarbone Monday night. McCarthy said that while it's true backup Seneca Wallace joined the Packers the week before the season started and didn't play in the preseason, "Seneca has a lot of experience. He's been in this [West Coast] style of offense before. There's concepts and things that he's comfortable with, they have to fit the challenge of going against Philadelphia's defense."

The Eagles' punt returning and kickoff returning looked better in Oakland, with DeSean Jackson handling all the punts and Brandon Boykin the kickoffs, but Chip Kelly said yesterday he isn't ready to replace Damaris Johnson in either job.

Kelly reiterated that Johnson's ankle injury, which kept him out of practice all last week, was the reason he didn't return against the Raiders, not displeasure with his work.

"DeSean had one long return there [32 yards], and Brandon hit one up in there [for 41 yards], so those were positives, but we're not ready to make a wholesale change yet," Kelly said.

It seems likely Kelly is concerned about the number of plays and the risk of injury for Jackson and Boykin, who play vital roles at wideout and cornerback.

Much to no one's surprise, Nick Foles' seven-touchdown day in Oakland netted him NFC Offensive Player of the Week honors for the second time in three starts . . . Michael Vick remained limited in practice. Also limited were linebacker Jake Knott (hamstring) and corner Bradley Fletcher (pectoral muscle). Defensive end Cedric Thornton (knee) did not practice. Receiver Riley Cooper returned from a Tuesday absence due to illness . . . During corner Curtis Marsh's exile from the Eagles, he played in only two games for the Bengals, Marsh said, but one of them was against the Packers.

On Twitter: @LesBowen

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