Packers expect Chad Clifton to play

Updated: December 29, 2011, 6:46 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The Green Bay Packers are expected to give offensive lineman Chad Clifton some playing time this weekend against Detroit.

Clifton began the season as the NFL's oldest starting left tackle at age 35. He suffered a hamstring injury Oct. 9 at Atlanta and hasn't played since. Coach Mike McCarthy wants him to play against the Lions to gauge where he is after such a long layoff.

McCarthy refused to say how many snaps he wants Clifton to play, and Clifton said he doesn't know.

Second-year tackle Marshall Newhouse has stepped in and played for Clifton. He has allowed eight sacks, seven quarterback hits and 36 pressures.

Newhouse, who has played primarily at left tackle but has stepped in at right tackle and right guard, has allowed eight sacks, seven quarterback hits and 36 pressures.

"He's played some good football for us," offensive coordinator Joe Philbin said. "The number of sacks he's given up isn't necessarily acceptable; however, when you look at the body of work over the last 12 weeks that he's been playing for us, he's gone against some very good players and been competitive. It's not like he gets run over a whole lot."

Last season, when Clifton was selected to his second Pro Bowl, he was charged with eight sacks, seven hits and 30 pressures, according to ProFootballFocus.com.

Now, the Packers must see if Clifton can regain his form after such a long layoff.

"We'll be scrutinizing, we'll be looking at it pretty closely," Philbin said. "He's missing 600, 700 (snaps) from this season, there's no question about it. There's no way we can replace those. But let's see if he looks like the guy who got about 10,000 in previous seasons."

For his part, Clifton said feels like he's regaining his pre-injury form

"I just want to come out and play to the best of my ability -- go out there and help the team," he said. "I feel pretty good out there as far as the rust level. I feel like my pass sets are pretty good. Maybe the first couple days last week I might have been a little rusty but it's coming around."

Clifton has one year remaining on his current contract, and because he turns 36 in June, this could be his final season. If McCarthy opts for experience -- in 12 NFL seasons, Clifton has played in 164 career games, including 12 postseason games -- in the playoffs, Newhouse could be headed back to the bench. Asked how he was preparing for that possibility, Newhouse replied, "Quiet indifference."

"I mean, it's so cliche, but I just want to win," Newhouse said. "I know Cliff's a great lineman, and it's been great to play alongside him, play behind him. Whatever happens, happens, and I know whenever he's ready to go, we have to put our best five out there. We've got to keep Aaron healthy and we've got to go win games. Whatever that means, I'm all for it."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.