One day ago head coach Mike McCarthy called Thursday a “threshold day” for tackle Chad Clifton, a reference to the first time tackle Chad Clifton would take part in a padded practice since Week 5 when he suffered a hamstring injury.
Following practice today, it appears as if Clifton has convinced McCarthy enough to give him a chance in the regular season finale against the Detroit Lions Sunday at Lambeau Field.
Paraphrasing McCarthy, Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes via Twitter, “Anticipate Clifton playing, have time to see how everyone will line up in the playoffs.”
Marshall Newhouse has been starting in place of Clifton ever since the injury to the veteran left tackle. The replacement has been subject to ups and down, doing enough to keep the Packers winning but struggling against some of the better defensive ends in the league like the Chiefs’ Tamba Hali and the Giants’ Jason Pierre-Paul.
The Packers’ coaching staff will likely be watching film of today’s practice in pads and Sunday’s game against the Lions in order to determine which direction they’ll go when the Packers return to action in the divisional round of the playoffs.
“The open week will answer the clifton/Newhouse question for playoffs,” writes Kareem Copeland of the Green Bay Press-Gazette on Twitter, also paraphrasing McCarthy.
What this means in the short term is also up for debate. With right tackle Bryan Bulaga dealing with a knee injury, his status is in doubt for the Detroit game as well.
The Packers may elect to go with the same offensive line they did recent win over the Chicago Bears on Christmas, a game in which the offensive line played superbly, especially in light of injuries that necessitated T.J. Lang shifting to right tackle and Evan Dietrich-Smith filling in at left guard.
Another option for the Packers would be to move Newhouse over to right tackle, where Newhouse played briefly earlier in the season, if and when Clifton comes back to play left tackle.
Whether Clifton will get the start on Sunday remains to be seen.