Black and Blue all over: Even Clifton practices
A subtle but interesting dynamic has evolved this week in Green Bay, where the Packers' coaching staff has made a big push to involve everyone in practice -- even those who traditionally get a pass because of chronic injuries.
The latest is left tackle Chad Clifton, who as Jason Wilde of the Wisconsin State Journal points out, fully participated in Wednesday and Thursday practices this week for the first time all season. Clifton has sore knees that generally benefit from rest during the week, but his uneven play this year has left him in need of more practice time.
Here's how offensive coordinator Joe Philbin described Clifton's situation:
"We need a little more continuity. That's one of the things we feel like has maybe slowed us down a little bit. We want to be smart, obviously. We're not going to grind the guy so he's taken out in an ambulance out to the field on Sunday so he can play. But continuity is important, and we believe in practice."
Indeed, when Clifton sits out a drill, the Packers have to shuffle several other positions to replace him. It's something the team has lived with for a while -- Clifton's nickname at times has been "The Big Lamborghini," because he was too valuable to use except on weekends -- but the Packers' 4-5 record and their critical matchup against Chicago dictated otherwise this week.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers (shoulder) has stepped up his practice repetitions this week as well.
Elsewhere around the NFC North:
- The Packers aren't sure who will start at right end against the Bears. Rookie Jeremy Thompson will start if he is healthy, reports Tom Pelissero of the Green Bay Press-Gazette. Otherwise, Mike Montgomery likely will get the nod.
- Chicago coach Lovie Smith seemed to hint that quarterback Kyle Orton (ankle) will be ready for Sunday's game, according to Nick Hut of the Northwest Herald.
- Bob LeGere of the Daily Herald has the lowdown on Tommie Harris' locker room rant. "I think a lot of people don't know what they're talking about," the Bears' defensive tackle said.
- There are no indications of movement on the appeal for defensive tackles Kevin Williams and Pat Williams, who reportedly are fighting a suspension for taking a diuretic banned by the NFL. Judd Zulgad of the Star Tribune lays out the situation.
- Vikings receiver Sidney Rice has three touchdowns among his five receptions this season, but Sean Jensen of the St. Paul Pioneer Press writes the team would like to involve him in more non-red-zone plays.
- Terry Foster of the Detroit News takes a look at the Lions' remaining schedule and concludes: "The Lions already are on the path to 0-16."
- Quarterback Drew Henson cleared waivers and re-signed with the Lions practice squad, reports the Detroit News' John Niyo.