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Packers QB Jordan Love to play again in preseason finale

Rookie backup Sean Clifford continues to impress

QB Jordan Love
QB Jordan Love

GREEN BAY – Packers quarterback Jordan Love will play in next week's preseason finale vs. Seattle, Head Coach Matt LaFleur confirmed Sunday.

The thinking, after Love has produced two touchdown drives in five preseason series against Cincinnati and New England thus far, covers multiple angles.

First, LaFleur believes there's no such thing as enough reps for young quarterbacks. Second, he likes the idea of Love preparing for a noon kickoff at home following the first two night preseason contests.

But third and most important, the decision is based on the desire to get a young offense overall more snaps together in game action, whether or not the opponent is playing its best defensive players.

"Him playing isn't just about him playing," LaFleur said regarding Love. "It's about the other 10 guys out there, just making sure we're a cohesive unit. Because we do have a lot of young guys.

"It's about getting Jayden Reed more reps and our two young wideouts, our two young tight ends. It's always about the collective unit going out there and trying to continue to build a cohesiveness."

Thus far, Love is 12-of-18 for 130 yards and two TDs in preseason action for a passer rating of 124.8. The injury risk isn't being ignored, as LaFleur noted he held his breath when Love was trying to recover an errant shotgun snap Saturday night. He also said Love was sore after taking a late hit on a scramble and slide.

But the hope is the extra work now will pay off in the long run, as LaFleur said the coaching staff this week will deploy some segments of the playbook just to make it easier down the road when they're needed in a game plan.

"We're trying to make it uncomfortable for them," LaFleur said of the offense. "We're trying to put them in different situations. You're trying to look at it from the longevity of the season."

As for Love's backups, rookie Sean Clifford ended up playing the rest of Saturday night's game until it was suspended with 10:29 left in the fourth quarter. LaFleur said the plan was to get No. 3 QB Alex McGough playing time, had the game been finished.

Clifford had driven the offense into the red zone at the time the game was called off, putting the Packers in position to score more points. That would've added to the 33 he'd put up already (23 at Cincinnati, 10 vs. New England) on his first 13 drives.

Perhaps most impressively, Clifford is now 2-for-2 in two-minute situations, driving the offense 57 yards in less than 50 seconds for a long field goal at the end of the first half against the Patriots. Starting from Green Bay's own 9-yard line, the key plays were a 23-yard defensive pass interference penalty and an 18-yard completion to undrafted rookie Malik Heath to get across midfield.

That came after Clifford took the offense 68 yards for a touchdown in 25 seconds last week at Cincinnati, also at the end of the first half. A 47-yard catch-and-run by rookie receiver Dontayvion Wicks on a gutsy, well-placed slant pass started the drive, and Clifford followed with a 14-yard scramble and 5-yard TD pass.

"I just think he's got great poise," LaFleur said of the fifth-round draft pick and Penn State product's two-minute success. "You can tell that the moment's not too big for him and it's about executing. It's always more than just him. It takes all 11 to get it done, but I think that he's had really good command and he's been in control out there. So yeah, he's put together two pretty good games."

Clifford also didn't turn the ball over in his second outing after throwing two interceptions in his first. His collective numbers are 33-of-45 for 345 yards with one TD and the two picks for a rating of 84.0.

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