First the Packers' sack record, then on to 100 for Clay Matthews

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GREEN BAY, Wis. -- No matter what else Clay Matthews -- or any other NFL pass-rusher for that matter -- does during his career, he will always be measured by one thing: sacks.

Soon, perhaps even this Sunday against the Bengals at Lambeau Field, the Green Bay Packers outside linebacker will own the franchise record in that category.

But he's far from the one-trick pony that the current team record holder, Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, was. Known as KGB, he broke Reggie White's franchise record and finished with 74.5 sacks but did little else in his nine-year career that ended in 2008, the year before Matthews arrived in Green Bay.

Matthews needs a half-sack to tie KGB and a full sack to break the record.

While Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers gushed about Matthews as a pass-rusher -- saying "when he's healthy, he can rush with the best of them" -- he's more than just someone who chases quarterbacks.

Matthews took one for the team in 2014 when he moved to inside linebacker midway through the season and stayed there for all of 2015, and his pass-rushing opportunities suffered because of the position switch.

"That's the thing you don't find a lot of times in pass rushers, their instincts when you ask them to go play other positions," Capers said. "I mean he's been really unselfish that way. You remember, what two, three years ago when we took him midseason and put him at inside linebacker, he played there. And we've played him a lot there since then at different times in a game with different schemes, so that's the thing you like about Clay. He's willing to do whatever it takes that's in the game plan that week."

Matthews would undoubtedly have the record by now if not for a seemingly annual battle with injuries. He's coming off a career-low five sacks last season, when he missed four games and played through several others with a painful shoulder injury. But the 31-year-old still believes he can be productive if he can stay healthy.

A first-round pick in 2009, Matthews recorded his first sack against the team he could set the record against. He sacked Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer in Week 2 on the way to a 10-sack rookie season and the first of four straight Pro Bowls.

If Matthews puts together another double-digit sack season, something he hasn't done since 2014, it will be the fifth time in his career. No one has done that in Green Bay since sacks became an official stat in 1982 (Matthews, White and KGB each have four double-digit sack seasons).

Matthews nearly reached the record last week at Atlanta, where he played one of his best games in recent years and had 1.5 sacks, three quarterback hits and five tackles (including one for a loss).

"Obviously I knew I was pretty close to it," Matthews said of the franchise record. "But I guess it'd be an interesting stat to have nine years ago. Hopefully we can get that and then the next milestone is probably shooting for 100 or something like that. Like I said, hopefully I can get after the quarterback this week, get back on track as far as winning more than anything."

Earlier this week, Packers coach Mike McCarthy raved about Matthews' studious approach to the game and how from Day 1 of his rookie year he sat in the front row during meetings.

"I'm in the second row now, I've graduated," Matthews said.

And soon he will graduate to the top of the sack list.