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Lions-Packers matchup of the day: Friday

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Dan Arkush
Executive editor

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Posted Dec. 30, 2011 @ 1:56 p.m. ET
By Dan Arkush

Lions DREs Kyle Vanden Bosch and Lawrence Jackson vs. Packers OLTs Chad Clifton and Marshall Newhouse

While there figures to be much greater focus in the trenches on Lions DRT Ndamukong Suh, whose costly ejection turned out to be a key factor in the first Lions-Packers game this season on Thanksgiving Day, the likely return of Clifton to the left side of the Packers' line on Sunday after missing nearly three months with hamstring and back injuries is equally significant.

It remains to be seen just how much the 12-year veteran will play on Sunday, but the Packers' coaches are looking forward to monitoring Clifton's state of readiness for the playoffs. Clifton was a pillar of strength in last year's postseason, allowing only one sack and two pressures, and he would be a significant upgrade if healthy over Newhouse, not that the latter has been a detriment at left tackle.

Actually, Newhouse has done a pretty decent job in place of Clifton. He has run into some problems against top-flight opponents (most notably Jared Allen and Tamba Hali), but he is coming off a strong effort against the Bears and Julius Peppers.

Vanden Bosch and Jackson, who missed the first game this season vs. Green Bay with a thigh injury, have become a steadily disruptive rotation from the right side. The 33-year-old Vanden Bosch (eight sacks) has lost a step, but he still goes all out on every snap and is as smart as a whip. Jackson (4½ sacks) is a former first-round pick of the Seahawks with a lot of natural talent.

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