Green Bay Packers’ OT Chad Clifton has been offense’s MVP so far : Packers Insider

Green Bay Packers’ OT Chad Clifton has been offense’s MVP so far

October 27, 2010 by  
Filed under News

Oct 27, 2010 ~ by Lori Nickel

~Green Bay — This is just weird.

Jermichael Finley is out. Nick Barnett, too. Ryan Grant is long gone.

Glancing down the line, no Mark Tauscher.

Big man Ryan Pickett is battling injury; Brandon Chillar, too. Can’t believe the latest news of Mike Neal and Brady Poppinga. Can’t wait to get Al Harris and Atari Bigby back.

One of the advantages, one theory goes, of having a young team is that young players can withstand injuries or heal faster.

And yet here’s 34-year-old “Big Cliff,” still standing.

Among the foremost concerns for the Green Bay Packers heading into the season were the knees of left tackle Chad Clifton and the calendar working against the 11-year veteran.

He has had a long history of battling, repairing and playing through injuries, but he was feeling less than great at the start of the season. He had a sore left knee nagging him in training camp.

That’s all long gone now.

“I feel good. I feel so much better than I did coming into the season,” Clifton said.

It has really showed. Clifton held Minnesota’s Jared Allen at bay, playing him one-on-one for most of Green Bay’s 28-24 victory Sunday.

When asked how he has managed to survive and play well despite the missed practice time, Clifton said: "Experience has a lot to do with it. It's my 11th year, so I better know what's going on out there."

Clifton and the rest of the offensive line gave quarterback Aaron Rodgers plenty of time to work and kept him from getting sacked.

“That’s priority No. 1 for an offensive lineman. We’re definitely proud of that,” said Clifton.

Rodgers appreciated it, especially after getting sacked 14 times in the two Minnesota games in 2009.

Rodgers said the play of the tackles, with the play calling of coach Mike McCarthy, kept Minnesota’s defensive line of Allen and Kevin and Pat Williams off-balance. McCarthy mixed the screens with straight drop-back throws.

“We had a good flow there,” said Rodgers. “At times they weren’t even rushing. They were content with staying at the line of scrimmage and jumping. So when you can slow down great rushers like that, that’s a win for us, and those guys did a great job.”

The Packers hoped to get this kind of production out of Clifton when they re-signed him to a three-year, $20 million contract that included $7.5 million of guaranteed money in March.

Now Clifton is on a roll.

“This is probably the third week in a row that Chad Clifton’s played very, very good football,” offensive coordinator Joe Philbin said. “The kind we’re used to seeing him play. He’s played well the last few weeks, and we need him to continue to do that.”

In back-to-back losses to Miami and Washington, Clifton still played well. He shut down Redskins linebacker Andre Carter. Against Miami, Clifton withstood the rush so well from Cameron Wake that the outside linebacker had to go to the other side because he wasn’t getting anywhere with Clifton. Against Detroit, Clifton neutralized Kyle Vanden Bosch.

But the performance against Minnesota was especially gratifying.

“Huge game. Game we needed to win. Division game. That’s a quality team,” said Clifton. “They have a lot of great players. And it got us on the winning track. It’s a long season; there’s a lot of football to be played. We just need to try to take this victory and try to move forward. Obviously we were all excited. This was so big for the team, to get back to the winning category.”

Of course, pass protection isn’t all there is to it. Clifton has been very good at run blocking.

Green Bay’s running game against Minnesota better reflected what McCarthy has wanted: quality, and not necessarily quantity, in rushing carries. Brandon Jackson carried 13 times for 58 yards and one touchdown.

Help Us! Comment about this Packer Article

This is a community of fanatical Packer fans. Please tell us what you think about this post....