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Friday, November 14, 2008
Black and Blue all over: Even Clifton practices


Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert

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: