PALM BEACH, Fla. -- During his hour with reporters Wednesday morning, Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy offered a mildly surprising insight: Left tackle Chad Clifton and receiver Donald Driver are on firmer ground with the organization than once believed and aren't likely to be released anytime soon.
For different reasons, both Clifton and Driver appeared to be candidates for departure as the Packers move younger players into their roles. Clifton missed much of 2011 because of hamstring and back issues, and he'll turn 36 in August. There are two possible replacements on the roster, Marshall Newhouse and Derek Sherrod. But asked if Clifton will be on the roster when training camp begins, McCarthy said: "There's definitely a possibility. We haven't taken him off, so he's someone we'll continue to talk about and get the reports."
The Packers have limited Clifton's practice repetitions for years to preserve his health, and ultimately, McCarthy said, his future is "a medical decision."
Meanwhile, Driver is busy this month participating in ABC's "Dancing With the Stars." His contract calls for him to earn about $5 million in 2012, but he said earlier this offseason he would be willing to restructure if that kept him with the Packers. If so, there wouldn't be any risk in bringing him to training camp.
"Donald's still on our roster," McCarthy said. "I thought Donald, the second half of the season, he played very well. His role, as far as opportunities, was not as high as it's been in the past, but I thought Donald was very consistent down the stretch. I thought he played well in the playoff game."
Things change quickly in the NFL, but for the moment, McCarthy appeared to indicate that neither player will be leaving the franchise in the near future.