Chad Clifton, who on Sunday against Detroit played his first game since sustaining a serious hamstring injury on Oct. 9, acquitted himself about as well as could be expected in his one quarter of action after having just two weeks of practice to shake off more than two months of rust.
"Experience and he's a good player. Chad Clifton is a damn good player," coach Mike McCarthy said in explaining his logic in going with Clifton or Marshall Newhouse.
"Marshall's done an excellent job," McCarthy said earlier. "We've won a lot of games with Marshall Newhouse. But Chad Clifton is the starter. There's won't be any gray area for that. But in the same breath, Chad still has a little more work to do. And we've got time to get it done. I'm encouraged by the progress he's made and as long as he can stay healthy through these next couple weeks."
"I don't see Greg missing a beat," McCarthy said.
McCarthy said he was "hopeful" that his entire 53-man roster would be able to practice on Wednesday, though running back James Starks, who has been dogged by ankle issues for weeks, might be the lone exception.
"It's where you want to be," McCarthy said. "It's definitely better than the alternative. To get everybody practiced, get everybody repped, it's going to be tough making the inactive list for the divisional playoff game. That's never any fun. You've played a full season and you have healthy guys you have to put down for the game. But those are good problems to have."
McCarthy will hold practices on Wednesday and Thursday. Teams are allowed to practice in pads once per week during the playoffs, and McCarthy will stick with his season-long schedule by holding the padded practice on Thursday. McCarthy considered having his team practice on Friday but instead is giving the players three days off before meetings and a walk-through practice in the gym next Monday.
"Just the biggest thing is, what 100 times out of 100 it comes back to is how much time do you spend on the fundamentals?" McCarthy said of the bye-week plan. "You know, we have the ability to practice outside, as we did not in '07, just because of the field conditions. Having Nitschke Field now that's heated is a big bonus for us, so the ability to handle the football is something we've been trying to spend a lot of time on the last month and having the opportunity to do it this upcoming week and next week is really beneficial."
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