As the backup quarterback for the Green Bay Packers, rookie Sean Clifford faces the challenge of staying mentally sharp without receiving any reps during the practice week. With Jordan Love serving as the starting quarterback, Clifford’s role involves running the scout-team offense against the No. 1 defense, allowing him to stay physically active by throwing passes against the team’s top defenders.
Clifford’s preparation primarily revolves around mental exercises, as he doesn’t get any snaps during practice. Despite the limitations, Clifford remains focused on every step of the game-week preparation to ensure he is ready to play if needed. He analyzes film, understands opposing defenses, and closely observes Love’s performance during practice to simulate game scenarios.
While Love takes all the offensive reps, Clifford engages in mental preparation by discussing plays and scenarios with the coaching staff, contributing ideas to enhance the team’s readiness. Additionally, Clifford works on specific concepts after practice, putting in extra effort to make up for the opportunities he doesn’t get on the field.
A notable behind-the-scenes detail is Clifford’s Saturday routine, where he simulates the mental part of the game with practice-squad quarterback Alex McGough. They run through the call sheet, with McGough calling plays to Clifford, who acts as if he’s in the huddle, reciting play calls, snap counts, and going through pre-snap keys.
While Clifford’s preparation hasn’t translated into playing time so far, he believes that mentally and physically, he is ready to step in if disaster strikes and he is called upon to play. He emphasizes the daily improvement he has made over the weeks, learning from mistakes and continuously striving to be better.