GREEN BAY, Wisc. -- Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews likened his post-Halloween get-up to "baby steps."
A week after returning to the field for the first time in a month wielding a bulky club over his right hand, Green Bay's defensive leader has graduated to the toddler stage in his adjustment to playing football without full use of both hands.
Matthews practiced Wednesday wearing a small cast on the hand.
"I think this is a normal path," head coach Mike McCarthy said. "(The scope of the protective covering) starts to decrease each week."
Matthews clearly was unfavorably impacted by having to play with the big club in the 27-13 loss to Philadelphia on Sunday, his first game since he sustained a broken thumb in the Week 5 victory over Detroit. The injury required surgery, which kept Matthews out for four games.
"I know the way I can contribute on this defense, and it's frustrating when you're limited physically," said Matthews, adding of the hand, "It'll continue to get better, and I'll continue to help this team out."
Matthews, who is tied for second on the team with three sacks, was credited with just three tackles (one solo) by the coaches' film review for the game Sunday. He played 39 of a possible 61 snaps.
"You just try to become more comfortable with throwing it in there, and eventually it'll become second nature," Matthews said of playing with the hand in a cast. "Right now, having the pins pulled out (Nov. 4), there was still a little bit of grimace to it, but overall I think that will dissipate and I'll be able to throw it in there a little more, to the point where it'll get smaller and smaller, and we'll be able to play a little more effectively."
The Packers' next game is Sunday at the New York Giants. After Matthews missed the Giants' 38-10 rout of Green Bay in New Jersey last November because of a hamstring injury, New York quarterback Eli Manning is wary about having Green Bay's recognizable No. 52 on the field again, even if he's not at full strength.
"You've got to know where he is and pay attention to him because he can get that great jump off the ball and get to the quarterback," Manning said Wednesday. "So, we've got to have a plan for him and make sure guys are accounting for him and make sure he doesn't come in and make some game-changing plays."
A few of Matthews' more productive games in five pro seasons have come at the expense of Manning and the Giants.
Matthews recorded three pressures on and two hits of Manning and also forced a fumble in the Packers' 45-17 victory late in the 2010 regular season en route to their Super Bowl title.
In the Packers' 38-35 road win over the Giants in December 2011, Matthews created two turnovers by Manning, including a strip-sack and a 38-yard interception return for a touchdown.