Offense settles in with Clements calling plays

Weston Hodkiewicz
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Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy watches action from the sideline in the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the New England Patriots Thursday, Aug. 13, 2015, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy gave his starting offense every second of the first quarter to gain familiarity with new offensive playcaller Tom Clements.

All parties involved felt like it was time well spent.

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers, running back Eddie Lacy and the rest of the offensive starters played the first three series in Thursday night’s 22-11 win over the New England Patriots. All three drives stalled, twice inside the red zone, but the Packers produced 161 total yards on 32 total plays.

Neither Rodgers nor Lacy suited up in last year’s opener against Tennessee. This time, Rodgers threw the ball 19 times, completing 11 passes for 117 yards. Lacy started the night with back-to-back carries of 15 yards, finishing with 36 yards on five attempts.

There are still a few kinks to iron out, but the Packers feel like they got off to a good start.

“I think for us at this point in our progression of the offense it’s about kind of getting in shape with the no-huddle and we moved the ball pretty well,” Rodgers said. “We got stalled in the red zone, but we were in one personnel group the entire time with limited substitutions. It was good exercise out there for us and communication was very good.”

Backup Scott Tolzien felt the first game with Clements calling plays went smooth, adding that he “didn’t really notice a difference.” Clements previously called plays when he was the offensive coordinator in Buffalo in 2005 and occasionally stepped in for the Packers’ past preseason finales.

The Packers felt Rodgers and Clements’ decade-long working relationship also would ease the transition.

So far, so good – even if it didn’t produce a touchdown on Thursday night.

“(It) was a good start for us,” Rodgers said. “Tom was very calm on the headset and he enunciated well. We had a headset issue at one point, but that’s kind of preseason. I was telling Brett (Hundley) about my first preseason game when the headset went out and he had one out there and was trying to get us into a good formation, but that’s preseason football and Tom did a really good job.

Going into the next preseason game in Pittsburgh, Rodgers guessed he and the first-team offense probably play more in the second game based on what he did Thursday night.

For the first game, McCarthy said he felt the communication was solid in all three phases, particularly on special teams where young players sometimes can lost in the changeovers. There also were no glaring mishaps in the team’s substitution packages.

“It's totally different. I’m not competing against their defense calling plays,” McCarthy said. “It's a different role, so yeah, you do enjoy the game more. That’s what a number of people were telling me beforehand, that you do enjoy the game more.” and follow him on Twitter @WesHod.

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