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Full speed ahead--Clifton by P-G's Rob Demovsky

Discussion in 'Packer Fan Forum' started by PWT36, Jun 8, 2007.

  1. PWT36

    PWT36 Cheesehead

    Apr 15, 2005
    Packers OTA June 7, 2007

    Posted June 8, 2007

    Full speed ahead for Clifton

    'Explosive' left tackle off to encouraging start

    By Rob Demovsky

    Chad Clifton always wanted to play 12 years in the NFL. That was his goal when he came into the league as a second-round draft pick in 2000.

    A year ago, it looked like he might barely last half that long.

    Midway through his seventh NFL season, he was spending as much time in the training room as he was on the field. Multiple surgeries on both knees and one of his elbows combined with his memorable hip/pelvis injuries at the hands of Warren Sapp in 2002 left him so hobbled he needed almost 2 hours of therapy and rehabilitation every day just to get ready for practice or games.

    The Green Bay Packers' franchise left tackle was seemingly on his last legs.

    Less than a year later, however, Clifton appears rejuvenated. He has taken part in most of the Packers' minicamp and organized team activity practices — although he dropped out of Thursday's workout after what looked like a minor elbow injury — and for the first time in three years, he isn't rehabilitating from an offseason surgery.

    Offensive coordinator Joe Philbin, who was Clifton's position coach last season, said Clifton jumped out at him early in the OTAs.

    "He looks quick to me," Philbin said. "I think he's moving well. You compare him to where he was a year ago, and I think right now you have to be pretty encouraged."

    New offensive line coach James Campen, who has worked with the Packers' offensive linemen in various capacities since 2004, saw some of the same things.

    "Not only does he look more explosive than he has at this time of the year since I've been here," Campen said, "but he's also getting into football shape much earlier. I think that will benefit him a lot."

    Clifton wasn't able to participate when the OTAs opened a year ago due to lingering knee pain. He was limited throughout training camp, and when the season opened, he was rusty. In the Packers' 26-0 Week 1 loss to Chicago at Lambeau Field, rookie defensive end Mark Anderson had little trouble handling Clifton. Anderson had one sack, another quarterback hit and a pair of tackles.

    Still, Clifton claims he never was worried he was wearing down.

    "I never thought that," he said.

    Sure enough, the next week against the New Orleans Saints, he bounced back against a solid defensive end, Will Smith.

    "I think he had a rough start," Philbin said, "but he ended up having a pretty good year. Will Smith came to town in Week 2 and didn't even touch Brett Favre once, so I think his demise was overrated a little bit. He had a solid year after that. Pass protection-wise, the sucker's pretty good."

    That's exactly what an NFL team needs from a left tackle, who protects the blind side of a right-handed quarterback.

    "Early in the season last year, I struggled a little bit with the knee," Clifton said. "Probably four or five games into it, I think it was fine, and definitely by the end of the season, I felt as good as I had in three years. I definitely got stronger as the season went on."

    At one point, the Packers got a taste of what life might be like after Clifton is gone. In an Oct. 22 win at Miami, Clifton was sidelined shortly before kickoff due to an illness, forcing the Packers to move rookie Daryn Colledge from left guard to left tackle. Twice early in the game, defensive end Jason Taylor smoked Colledge to sack Favre, forcing fumbles both times.

    Colledge could be the heir apparent at left tackle, but he appears to have found a home at left guard. General Manager Ted Thompson drafted another possible left tackle in April, when he took Allen Barbre of Missouri Southern State in the fourth round. Barbre, however, has lined up exclusively at left guard.

    Last summer, Josh Bourke, then an undrafted rookie, was impressive as a backup left tackle early in camp until a back injury forced him to miss the rest of the season. It has taken Bourke longer than expected to return to form, but the coaches say he's getting there. At Thursday's practice, Bourke split time with first-year pro Orrin Thompson at left tackle after Clifton's elbow injury.

    "Do we have the next Chad Clifton here today?" Philbin said. "I'm not sure, but we've got some candidates."

    Clifton, 30, is under contract through 2009, and if he makes it until then, he will have played 10 years.

    "I've always had 12 years as a goal," Clifton said, "but if I don't make it, I don't make it."
  2. cheesey

    cheesey Cheesehead

    Nov 24, 2005
    I think if he can remain healthy, he will make it to the 10 year mark.
    That would be GREAT for us of course!
    Having some stability in our O line would be great for Favre, and whoever ends up replacing him.
  3. Mortfini

    Mortfini Cheesehead

    Mar 6, 2007
    does any1 have a link cos i anit seen what sapp as done ive just heard about it
  4. yooperfan

    yooperfan Cheesehead

    Dec 4, 2004
    Cliftons good health is good news.
    Here is to hoping he makes it 10- 12 years. :packbeer: :chug:
  5. tromadz

    tromadz Cheesehead

    Aug 15, 2005
    Cliftons health worries me so much. We have SOME depth there, but nothing great...
  6. Timmons

    Timmons Cheesehead

    May 8, 2006
    Clifton is great at pass protection but I don't think he's that good at run blocking on the zone scheme.
  7. Zombieslayer

    Zombieslayer Cheesehead

    Aug 12, 2006
    I second what Yooper said. I like Clifton. I'm hoping he gets at least one Pro Bowl honors before he retires (in hopefully five years from now).
  8. Schmitty

    Schmitty Cheesehead

    Jun 18, 2005
    This is gonna be a big year for Cliff. If he can stay healthy all year he will be good to go. Brett sure as hell needs him this year. Brett is gonna need an extra second or two so he can find one of his very young offensive weapons, because you know teams are gonna be doubling DD.

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