Meeting with reporters this afternoon the day after his team clinched homefield advantage throughout the playoffs, Packers head coach Mike McCarthy made no secret of the plans for veteran offensive tackle Chad Clifton, who has been out with a hamstring and back injury since Week 5.
“I want Chad Clifton to play in this game,” McCarthy said. “He knows that and that’s the goal.”
McCarthy continued “Once again, with his injury situation and what he’s gone through the last nine, 10 weeks, we’ll take it day by day. But the goal is for him to play against Detroit.”
According to offensive coordinator Joe Philbin, the coaching staff’s familiarity with Clifton is such that they won’t need much time to determine whether or not he’ll be able to help heading into a playoff run. Any evaluation will be enhanced by watching Clifton go up against one of the better defensive ends in the league in Kyle Vanden Bosch. Two or three series should give the Packers more than enough information and tape to make a determination.
Myself, I’ve been telling everyone who has asked the last two months that if Clifton is healthy enough to go, he should go regardless of the amount of time he’s missed this season. Not to take anything away from Marshall Newhouse, who has done yeoman’s work filling in for the aging veteran, but Clifton is one of the best pass protectors in the league. If he can play, the Packers should put him out there and not think twice, knowing Newhouse is there to come in if Clifton proves unable to hold up.