McCarthy: Packers “Playing to Win Game” on Sunday; Chad Clifton Expected to Play All Green Bay Packers All the Time
Mike McCarthy wants LT Chad Clifton to play Sunday against the Detroit Lions.

Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy made no mistake about his team’s desire to be 15-1, and he might get to try out a few players in the process, including left tackle Chad Clifton, against the Detroit Lions in Week 17.

McCarthy said Monday that the Packers are preparing to “win the game” and that sweeping the NFC North is an important goal to accomplish.

“We have every intention of being 15-1 come Sunday afternoon,” McCarthy said.

No mention was made about how long his starters will play, but McCarthy did say that he wants Clifton, who’s been out since injuring his hamstring in Week 5, to practice this week and play in Sunday’s game. McCarthy acknowledged the importance of Clifton seeing live action before the playoffs begin, and this week represents the last of those opportunities.

The Packers will also look to get more playing time for both Vic So’oto and Jamari Lattimore at outside linebacker, a position that opposite of Clay Matthews has been nothing short of a disaster this season. McCarthy said that So’oto earned his opportunity to play on Sunday, and Frank Zombo’s healthy scratch was partly due to special teams.

McCarthy gave more encouraging news on the injury front, as Ryan Pickett (concussion) and Bryan Bulaga (knee cap sprain) both appear to be getting close to returning. The duo could play this week against the Lions. The return of Bulaga and Clifton would give the Packers the opportunity to play the opening night starters on the offensive line (Clifton, T.J, Lang, Scott Wells, Josh Sitton, Bulaga, left to right) for the first time since Week 3.

Pickett’s return would be just as significant, as McCarthy said that Sunday’s performance in run defense graded out as the “worst in my time here.” The Packers have been gashed since losing Pickett, who McCarthy called their “best run defender,” to his second concussion of the season against the Oakland Raiders. The Bears ran for 199 yards on Sunday night, including 121 from third-string back Kahlil Bell.

Finally, McCarthy said that running back James Starks bruised his ankle in the third quarter on Sunday night’s game. Both of his ankles have been injured this season, and he’ll be challenged to practice on Wednesday.

Other highlights from McCarthy’s press conference:

  • The Packers will go full pads on Thursday of this week.
  • The offensive line will receive game ball for their performance against the Bears.
  • McCarthy doesn’t recall a game where the Packers didn’t have a penalty (He’s right; the last time was in 1990).
  • McCarthy has been impressed with Matthew Stafford’s ability to sustain long drives.
  • Special teams played really well and it started with the kicker and punter.
  • McCarthy would like to see Greg Jennings practice to see how he responds moving forward.

Zach Kruse is a 23-year-old sports journalist with a passion for the Green Bay Packers. He currently lives in Wisconsin and is working on his journalism degree, while also covering prep sports for The Dunn Co. News.

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14 thoughts on “McCarthy: Packers “Playing to Win Game” on Sunday; Chad Clifton Expected to Play

  1. Man, I hope So’oto is the answer. He was noticeably better than Walden last game in all aspects. But then again, anybody would’ve played better than Walden. Worst game I’ve seen from an OLB in quite a while.

    1. Absolutely, Walden is consistently trapped inside. The result, making a 3rd string RB look like an All-Pro.

  2. Is it just me or does anyone else sense that we ought to give one of the younger middle linebackers some more time?

      1. Maybe just replace him on passing downs with Francois.He seems to be in the right place and can catch the ball.

  3. Hate to rain on the So’oto parade but his disc problem won’t go away without surgery. If he makes it another game I’ll be pleasantly surprised.

    What the heck happened to the Walden/Zombo/Jones experiment. Have all three regressed?

    The “protect from injury” argument could be used to give more playing time to Smith over Hawk. It will be interesting to see during the playoffs if Hawk struggles, will the coaches say “the hell with it” and put Smith in full-time.

    Wouldn’t it be something if the Pack go into the playoffs with a healthy Clifton, Lang, Wells, Sitton and Bulaga O-line? Also Newhouse as the top backup. I’ll definitely take my chances with that group.

  4. MM is a fanatic when it comes to routine. The 16th game will be no different than any other game. He’ll hold a few of the injured out this week. He’s already told you he wants to see Clifton playing. He’s wanting to have Pickett and Bulaga back too.

    It’s worked so far. I’m a believer in MM.

    Go Pack!

  5. After having the vast majority of snaps all year long, how does Waldon regress? You would think with all that experience a player would get better. The play of this whole defence is troubling.

  6. Boys, we are in trouble, the defence had better snap out of it, or TEAMS,like the ones we will be playing in the playoffs will smoke us, it’s time Capers pulls that group into reality, ( no pass rush,can’t cover,no sacks, and without Picket, can’t stop the run )I love my Packers but we’re not as hungry as we were last year at this time,and it will take that to beat the teams coming up!!!!!

  7. I might change the word “trouble” to nervous… Again, total yards given up mean squat to me. Catch the passes from A-Rodg and we’ll be just fine. Caper’s has yet to let us down. I see additionbal take-away’s coming from the “D”.

  8. I think MM wants to go 15-1 with Flynn playing most of the game. Not sure how many snaps he’s seen this week.

    And +1 to “more Smith” comments. AJ looked like garbage vs. the Bears.

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