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Cheese Curds, 11/30: Packers' defense faces more potential absences to Matthews, Pennel

One player is injured while another faces a potential suspension depending upon the results of a lawsuit and appeal.

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Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The Green Bay Packers might be getting one key player back on defense this week, but the unit could be missing a couple more in the coming weeks. Clay Matthews suffered a shoulder injury early in the game on Monday and he was limited for the rest of the game. It's possible that he might be able to play this coming Sunday when the Packers host the Houston Texans, but it is far from a sure thing.

The other uncertain player is one who was suspended earlier this season for a violation of the NFL's drug policy: defensive lineman Mike Pennel. Now reports indicate that Pennel may be facing a second suspension, depending on the results of some legal proceedings. Although Pennel has been playing a minor role on defense this year (usually between 10-20 snaps per game), he is still a valuable member of the Packers' defensive line rotation and would be missed if he is forced away.

Those questions and more surround the Packers' defense, which needs to take another step forward in the next month if the Packers hope to sustain the success they found in Philadelphia.

Packers' option play called 'Bazooka' |
The most important part of the play was its execution - Aaron Rodgers picked up the first down on his own and slid to avoid any hits.

Clay Matthews' shoulder bigger concern for Green Bay Packers than Rodgers' hamstring - ESPN
That was plainly communicated by Mike McCarthy on Tuesday. It's possible that Matthews might not be able to play on Sunday, but Rodgers should not have any issues.

Jake Ryan's return could help settle run defense |
Ryan was listed as questionable for Monday's game and he had to sit out, but he expects to return this Sunday against Houston.

Mike Pennel of Green Bay Packers files lawsuit against NFL, NFLPA |
This suit seems to revolve around a second positive drug test, which if upheld would result in a ten-game suspension for the lineman.

Green and Bold: It's on the Defense Now | Cheesehead TV
As we discussed somewhat in yesterday's Cheese Curds, Rodgers has been on the upswing for quite a while now. The difference on Monday was that the defense actually got some stops consistently.

Best player at every position in NFL Week 12 | PFF
Once again, David Bakhtiari earns left tackle honors this week for his great game.

Lowest-graded players in NFL Week 12 | PFF
However, his rookie linemate Jason Spriggs landed in the bottom spot at his position.