Packers Sean Clifford leads efficient scoring drive in two-minute drill

May 23, 2023; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Sean Clifford (8) is shown during organized team activities at Ray Nitschke Field. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Jones-USA TODAY Sports
May 23, 2023; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Sean Clifford (8) is shown during organized team activities at Ray Nitschke Field. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Jones-USA TODAY Sports /

During the two-minute drill to wrap up Tuesday’s final open OTA practice, Green Bay Packers rookie quarterback Sean Clifford led an impressive scoring drive.

Beginning on the opposite end of the field, Clifford was efficient in taking the offense down inside the red zone, knowing when to take what the defense was giving him but also striking that balance of knowing when to push the ball as well. On consecutive plays to undrafted rookie receiver Malik Heath, Clifford completed a deep out to the right side of the field and then a corner route to the left sideline–both passes completed in fairly tight coverage.

Once in the red zone, the defense sent Tariq Carpenter on a blitz from the left side, Clifford hung in the pocket and delivered a dart to the front right corner of the end zone to Jeff Cotton, where only he could get it, and he toe-tapped to get both feet in for the score. In total, Clifford completed 9-of-11 passes on that drive.

"“He’s done some nice things,” said Matt LaFleur after Tuesday’s practice, “it’s just he’s a young quarterback. We’ve thrown a lot at these guys. Just specifically with that position, obviously, Jordan (Love) is getting the bulk of the reps, and he’s been splitting the second reps with Danny (Etling), so there is very limited reps for those guys. But I think he’s done a nice job, certainly. In that two-minute drill at the end of the game, we simulated a two-minute end of game, and I thought he did a nice job of getting completions and taking a few chances, and making some throws.”"

These last few weeks with so many young players, the Packers have been beginning with the basics and laying the foundation for what they want their offense to become. For Clifford, the playbook, pace of play, the play calls, pre-snap responsibilities, and more have all been an expected adjustment for him as he transitions to the NFL.

Taken in the fifth round of this year’s draft, which was considered a reach by many draft analysts, what the Packers really liked about Clifford was his college experience, having played in over 50 games at Penn State, the environment, and a number of big games he was accustomed to playing. His arm talent is another aspect that Brian Gutekunst mentioned after the draft, and we saw that on display Tuesday, along with Clifford’s athleticism and fit in the Green Bay locker room.

Clifford is competing with Danny Etling for the backup quarterback role. Etling is a 2018 seventh-round pick who doesn’t have any NFL regular season snaps and spent all of last season on the Packers practice squad. Most likely, Green Bay will roster just two quarterbacks on the 53-man roster, meaning the other will be on the practice squad.

With so much inexperience in the current quarterback room, there is value in adding a veteran to backup Jordan Love, and it’s a door that the Packers have kept open this offseason, but first, they wanted to give Clifford and Etling much-needed practice reps to get a better grasp on where each is at from an evaluation standpoint. LaFleur said recently that following the offseason programs, which conclude next week with mandatory minicamp, the Packers will know at that time whether or not they need to add a veteran to the room.

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When it comes to where things currently stand with the backup quarterback battle, a lot is still left undecided–as expected. With that said, given the comparative upside, along with the Packers under Gutekunst and LaFleur often favoring their own draft picks when making final roster decisions, you can bet that Clifford is the favorite over Etling for that role.

"“He’s an NFL draft pick, he’s definitely a talented player,” said LaFleur."