Barring the unexpected, the Green Bay Packers won't have outside linebacker Clay Matthews and will be forced to start a third-string defensive end Sunday at Lambeau Field against the Miami Dolphins.
Matthews, the National Football League sack leader with 8½, missed a third straight day of practice Friday and was listed as doubtful.
"We'll give him up to game time," coach Mike McCarthy said. "But he's making progress. He's close."
Veteran Brady Poppinga and rookie Frank Zombo probably will split time in place of Matthews at left outside linebacker.
Meanwhile, left ends Ryan Pickett (ankle) and Mike Neal (shoulder) missed another day and were listed as questionable. Thus, C.J. Wilson, a seventh-round draft choice who has played only 18 snaps, would make his first start.
"C.J. will do fine," defensive line coach Mike Trgovac said. "What he's going to have to gain is game experience. On the fly. But it's been done probably a thousand times in this league."
The 290-pound Wilson will play opposite right tackle Vernon Carey, a 340-pounder known for his drive blocking.
Trgovac said Wilson plays the run better than Jarius Wynn, adding that Wynn is the better pass rusher.
We still have Green Bay near the top of our team defense rankings, but the absence of Matthews helps Miami's passing game.