GREEN BAY – If the Green Bay Packers’ left tackle situation becomes dire enough that general manager Ted Thompson considers calling veteran Chad Clifton, he may be too late.
The two-time Pro Bowl left tackle, whom the Packers cut in April after he failed his physical in advance of the offseason program, is en route to New England for a physical with the Patriots, NFL.com reported Monday afternoon. The Boston Globe’s Shalise Manza Young had reported on Sunday that the Patriots were interested in Clifton.
The Packers got starting left tackle Marshall Newhouse back at practice in pads on Monday, 10 days after he suffered a concussion during the annual Family Night Scrimmage on Aug. 3. His backup, 2011 first-round pick Derek Sherrod, has yet to pass his physical after last December’s broken leg, leaving seventh-round pick Andrew Datko and journeyman Herb Taylor to work with the No. 1 offense in Newhouse’s place.
Sherrod would appear to be a candidate for the in-season physically unable to perform list, meaning he wouldn’t be able to practice for the first six weeks of the season.
In a Q&A with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Bob McGinn, Thompson addressed the decision to release Clifton, saying, “We released Chad just because we felt it was close to the end of the line. He's had a lot of injury things. He had the thing (back) that bugged him late in the season last year. Those are hard things to get over. We just felt like it was the prudent thing to do at the time. I haven't heard anything (about retirement).”
Clifton only played six games last season because of a hamstring injury he suffered on Oct. 9 at Atlanta and a back injury he suffered during rehab. Clifton underwent offseason back surgery and said he was feeling good at the time of his release. He made it clear after being cut that he did not intend to retire.
“I definitely knew it was a possibility. There’s not a lot of 35-, 36-year-old left tackles in the league. I knew at some point they'd want to get younger, absolutely,” Clifton said in an interview on Green & Gold Today after his release. “Right now, I’m back in Nashville, trying to get my back as strong as possible, just trying to get healthy, and we’ll take it from there. If there’s interest, we’ll see if I’m interested and kind of play it by ear. If it’s the right situation, I think I would (play again). Again, I’m going to have to get healthy, and that’s the No. 1 thing on my mind right now – to get my back as strong as I can.”
Asked what he’d say if Packers were to call, as they did with Clifton’s good friend and former bookend tackle Mark Tauscher in 2009, Clifton replied: “You never know. That definitely happened with ‘Tausch.’ I don’t want to see any of those guys go down with injury or have problems on the field, so I’m not looking for that to happen. But like I said, I’m going to be rehabbing and continuing to train so if I get a call from the Packers – or anybody else for that matter – if I feel the situation is the right situation for me and my family, I would be able to move forward (and play).”
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