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Clay Matthews has carved out quite the image for himself.
The long mane flowing out from his helmet. The post-sack celebration with arms spread wide, like a wild animal looming over its kill. The all-out hustle to get after the quarterback play after play.
Exploding onto the scene as a rookie with double-digit sacks, Matthews has produced from Day 1 in the NFL.
He followed that up with 13.5 sacks in season No. 2, finishing second in the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year voting behind only Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu. At that point, the sky seemed to be the limit for Matthews.
With a relatively meager pass-rush production of only six sacks in 2011, Matthews came crashing back to earth. For the most part, few believe Matthews was any less of a player, however.
People point to the lack of any other pass rush threat and the ability of teams to focus on Matthews, to double- and even triple-team him.
The Packers did their best in the offseason to ramp up their pass rush efforts by spending their first-round draft choice on outside linebacker Nick Perry; indeed their first six draft choices were all on the defensive side of the football. They also signed three free agent defensive linemen.
By virtue of pressure coming from other places on the field, that will allow Matthews to become the sack artist fans have come to expect. He will easily get back to the realm of a dozen sacks again.
Beyond just the sacks, Matthews is also coming into his own in all other phases of the game, particularly pass coverage where he had three interceptions last season.
The ability to come up with impact plays like sacks, interceptions as well as forced fumbles will allow Matthews to have the biggest impact on the Packers defense in 2012.