Former Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford experienced his fair share of highs and lows in his first taste of the NFL preseason on Friday evening. Clifford led the Green Bay Packers on four scoring drives in his preseason debut but he was also intercepted twice in the game, one of which was returned for a touchdown by Cincinnati Bengals defensive back Tycen Anderson.
The Packers started their first preseason game with starting quarterback Jordan Love getting some time on the field. After completing seven of his 10 pass attempts for 46 yards with a touchdown, the Packers pulled their franchise quarterback and rode with Clifford for the majority of the game. And aside from his two biggest mistakes, which rookies will tend to make, Clifford performed quite admirably in his NFL preseason debut.
Clifford ended the game with 20 completions on 26 pass attempts for 208 yards and a touchdown. He was intercepted twice by the same player but he was not sacked once and he rushed two times for 27 yards. Not a bad preseason debut by any stretch of the imagination, and perhaps an encouraging sign for the Packers when it comes to figuring out who the top backup option will be behind Love.
Clifford appeared to already have the inside track to the team’s top backup job on the roster. The Packers used a fifth-round draft pick on Clifford, who ended his Penn State career as the offensive MVP of the Rose Bowl. And leading up to the first preseason game of the year, the Packers released veteran quarterback Danny Etling. Clifford was expected to compete with Etling for the top backup job on the roster. Clifford has been listed second on the team’s first unofficial depth chart and his performance in the preseason opener against the Bengals did not seem to do anything to suggest he should be bumped down just yet.
Clifford and the Packers still have two more preseason games to play, of course, and he should get plenty of playing time as the Packers keep Love off the field as much as they can afford. The Packers will host the New Gnaldn Patriots, home to former Penn State tight end Mike Gesicki and quarterback Trace McSorley, next Saturday, Sept. 19.
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