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Packers LB Matthews probable against Vikings

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GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) Well into his 13th NFL season and with his third team, Julius Peppers is enjoying life as a first-time Green Bay Packer.

''I haven't really had very much to complain about,'' Peppers said in the Packers' Lambeau Field locker room Friday. ''I wake up, I'm happy to come to work every day. So that's a good thing. So far, so good.''

What has stimulated Peppers' enthusiasm and also allowed the eight-time Pro Bowl selection to still be highly productive at age 34 is being part of a deep and reliable group at outside linebacker.

The Packers expect Clay Matthews, their young star at the position, to play Sunday against the rival Minnesota Vikings. Matthews is probable for the game, Green Bay's first on the road in nearly a month.

The Packers had their customary day off from practice Friday, but they estimated Matthews would have been a limited participant, as he was the previous two days.

Matthews, whose switch to inside linebacker the last two games has been a boon for a previously struggling defense, has been dealing with a recurring groin injury. Matthews said Thursday he was a little sore after Green Bay's 53-20 rout of Philadelphia last Sunday.

''Obviously we don't work on Friday, that's our rehab day,'' Matthews said. ''(But) I feel good. So I don't think there will be any limitations going into this weekend.''

Matthews had to drop out of the Packers' Week 3 loss at Detroit and had a limited role the following week in a decisive road win over Chicago.

Green Bay (7-3), tied for the NFC North lead with Detroit, might need to get more out of Matthews at his natural position in Sunday's game. After starting the last two games at outside linebacker in conjunction with the position change for Matthews, Nick Perry is questionable to play. Perry has a shoulder injury and hasn't practiced this week.

''He's improving,'' Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Friday. ''Just probably get (him) out there tomorrow and get through the practice. It'd be a limited participation if we get to that.''

McCarthy added Green Bay's plan going into the game against the Vikings and rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater would need some tweaking if Perry can't play.

Defensive coordinator Dom Capers has been using a steady rotation of Matthews, Peppers, Perry and converted defensive end Mike Neal at the two outside linebacker spots since early in the season.

Depending on Perry's status, Jayrone Elliott could work into the mix. Elliott, who made the team out of training camp as an undrafted rookie, missed Green Bay's last game with a hamstring injury.

''It's been great to have a group of guys that can rotate and a group of guys that you can trust to come in and get the job done,'' said Peppers, who has a team-high five sacks and returned both of his interceptions for touchdowns, including a 52-yard runback in the lopsided win over the Eagles.

''I don't have one doubt or one problem coming off the field,'' Peppers added. ''If I need a blow, all I have to do is run to the sideline and know the next person that's coming in is capable and can get the job done when he goes in.''

NOTES: The Packers added DE Datone Jones to the injury report as questionable for the game. McCarthy said Jones turned a previously injured ankle in practice Thursday. . Starting guards T.J. Lang (ankle) and Josh Sitton (toe) are probable for Sunday. CB Jarrett Bush (groin), who ranks second on the team with 10 special-teams tackles, is questionable. TE Brandon Bostick (hip) is out for the second straight game.


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