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Clay Matthews on pace to set NFL sack record

How quickly things can change.

The theme surrounding Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews throughout 2011 was: What's wrong?

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He finished with just six sacks after the switch to the left side of the 3-4 and just wasn't the same force he was from his first two years. Matthews was the runner-up for NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2010 and had 23.5 sacks in his first two seasons.

Matthews wasn't exactly irrelevant in 2011. He was named to his third Pro Bowl and regularly pressured the passer, but he just didn't get home as much. He fought through chips or double- or triple-teams on nearly every snap with no help from a pass rusher on the other side. The Packers drafted Nick Perry out of USC with the No. 28 overall draft pick to help with just that.

Matthews now has six sacks through two games and is on pace to set the single-season NFL sack record.

"Clay is a relentless player," Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers told the Green Bay Press Gazette in a Saturday report. "You're going to get a great effort out of him and you combine that with the physical ability, he's smart, he's steady and he's off to a very similar start that he was off to two years ago."

Matthews had six sacks in the first two games in 2010. He's on pace for 48 sacks, which would blow past Michael Strahan's 22.5 in 2001.

There's no way Matthews reaches 48. I don't think anyone will ever average three sacks a game in today's NFL. But Matthews is back to putting up gaudy sack numbers, terrorizing quarterbacks and playing at a defensive MVP level. The Packers welcome the return.

Follow Kareem Copeland on Twitter @kareemcopeland.

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