GREEN BAY – Aaron Rodgers insists he’s not trying to play general manager anymore – he says he retired from that hypothetical job after pushing for Ted Thompson to re-sign wide receiver James Jones before the 2011 season – but the Green Bay Packers quarterback wouldn’t mind seeing the team reach out to his old friend and former blindside protector, Chad Clifton.
With starting right tackle Bryan Bulaga out for the season with a hip injury that landed him on injured reserve this week, the Packers’ next two offensive linemen on the 53-man roster are undrafted rookie free agents Don Barclay and Greg Van Roten. And while Rodgers was complimentary of both young players on his weekly radio show on 540 ESPN and ESPNWisconsin.com Tuesday, he didn’t hide his affection for the two-time Pro Bowl left tackle, whom the Packers released this spring.
Clifton, who missed most of last season with hamstring and back injuries, returned for the regular-season finale against Detroit and played 25 snaps. He started the team’s NFC Divisional Playoff loss to the New York Giants but was benched for Marshall Newhouse, who filled in at left tackle for him last season and is the team’s left tackle now.
Clifton said upon his release that he did not intend to retire after his release and that he would be staying in shape in case his phone rang. Clifton visited the New England Patriots earlier this year but was not signed, and the Arizona Cardinals also expressed some interest in him when injuries struck.
Clifton moved back to Nashville after his release. His home in Green Bay remains for sale.
“I haven’t talked to ‘Cliff’ in a while, but I would guess he might be able to be lured from Nashville,” Rodgers said. Asked if he’d like to see the Packers try to lure Clifton back, Rodgers replied, “I love Cliff, so I would never not want to see him up here. We’ve had a lot of fun together and it would be good to see him back up here.”
Rodgers gave no indication that the Packers are actually contemplating bringing Clifton back. Asked if he thought Clifton might have enough left in the tank to help the Packers, Rodgers replied, “I think if there’s any interest, it’s worth looking into. At least (it’d be worth) bringing him up here and seeing what kind of shape he’s in, how his body is. It’s worth that if there’s interest on our side.”
Rodgers said both Barclay and Van Roten have excellent potential but suggested that the Packers might sign a lineman in the coming days
“It would be a tough situation to put them out there,” Rodgers said of Van Roten or Barclay moving into the starting lineup if another injury struck. “I give Don Barclay a lot of credit. I think he really improved throughout the summer and was really proud and happy for him that he made the team and I thought it was warranted. I thought he had a really good camp and he’s a very good young man and he’s got a bright future in front of him I think. Greg, (I’m) really excited for him being lifted off of the practice squad and activated. He’ a strong, strong man and he really has some upper body strength and ability to bend which is always important for an offensive lineman. I thought he had a camp where he really improved as well. So I’m really happy for him getting a spot.
“But we are a little thin there, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we make a move there at some point.”
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