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Notebook: Bouman Learning On The Fly


Quarterback Todd Bouman's crash course in the Packers' offense began Tuesday night.

On the highway, riding shotgun.

With his wife driving to Green Bay and his kids in the back seat, Bouman was watching film of the Packers on his laptop computer to prepare for Wednesday and his first practice with his new team.

The whirlwind week began for Bouman, the Packers new backup quarterback, when he received a call from his agent Sunday night at home in Buffalo, Minn., hours after Brett Favre was knocked out of that day's game with an elbow injury and backup Aaron Rodgers had broken his foot, ending his season.

He flew to Green Bay on Monday for a workout, signed on Tuesday morning, and flew back home to pack up some clothes and get his family. Then on the drive back to Green Bay, he began to re-familiarize himself via film footage with Head Coach Mike McCarthy's offense, which is similar in the passing and protection schemes to what he learned in 2003-04 in New Orleans, where McCarthy was his offensive coordinator.

"It's been a little hectic, but we got everything together and I'm excited to be here," said Bouman as he talked with reporters at his locker on Wednesday.

"I'm pretty familiar with the offense. For the most part when I picked up the playbook and started looking at it, everything looks pretty familiar, so it's just a matter of getting comfortable with it, calling the play, dropping back and just being able to react instead of thinking about what everybody is doing."

Bouman will need some time to get a feel for the timing with the Packers receivers, but he's confident he'll find his rhythm soon. Since being released by the Saints at the end of training camp this past summer, he has been working out and throwing passes to some college friends back home.

McCarthy didn't officially declare Bouman the team's No. 2 signal caller, but he said packages of plays would be created for both Bouman and fellow backup Ingle Martin so that either could be ready in an emergency.

Bouman feels he'll know enough by the end of the week to be able to play if needed, and even though he doesn't expect Favre to miss Monday night's game, he's not taking anything for granted. Since breaking into the NFL in 1997, Bouman has never been a full-time starter but ended up starting six games, three each with the Vikings in 2001 and the Saints in 2005.

"Being a backup for nine years, you know what the situation is," he said. "You just never know when the opportunity is going to come and you have to be ready.

"I'll just study like crazy the next few days."

In something more comfortable than a carseat, presumably.

Waiting for his "club"

Linebacker Nick Barnett, who broke his hand in the fourth quarter last Sunday, sat out Wednesday's practice and is listed as doubtful on this week's injury report.

But Barnett has every intention of trying to play on Monday night with a "club" or special cast, which he hopes to test in practice later this week.

"Friday I'll put it to the limit and see what happens with it," Barnett said. "It's painful, but I don't think it's painful to the point to not play a football game.

"I have to talk to the doctor though. I don't know what the risks are by playing with it, so we'll see what happens."

Rookie Abdul Hodge played middle linebacker in Barnett's place in practice on Wednesday and would be the starter if Barnett is unable to play.

Barnett recognizes the challenge of playing with a club cast as a linebacker and the second-leading tackler on the team. It may make it more difficult for him to wrap up, and to shed blockers, but he's already picked up some pointers from defensive end and teammate Aaron Kampman, who played with a club cast during his rookie season in 2002.

"You have to use that thing as a weapon," Kampman said, only half-jokingly.

Barnett said the doctors have told him there's no need for surgery on the hand, though that remains a possibility should his hand become damaged any further. But at this point, Barnett doesn't know just how big a risk he'd be taking.

"I don't even count this as an injury, because it's not like an inhibiting injury like I'm going to sit out or anything," he said. "It's not inhibiting me from running. I can tackle still, and I might even get a better pass rush with that club on.

"I just hope I'm able to play. I'm up to it, emotionally and everything, I'm willing to do it. I just have to see what the risks are and the pain is and see if they want me to play or not."

{sportsad300}Other injuries

Offensive tackle Mark Tauscher, who missed last week's game with a groin injury, is listed as doubtful this week, though McCarthy said Tauscher is optimistic that the healing is coming along.

"As far as which week (he's going to return), it's really going to depend on Mark," McCarthy said. "He's better this week than last week, but he just needs to work on getting it stronger."

Also listed as doubtful this week are cornerback Will Blackmon (rib) and linebacker Ben Taylor (hamstring).

Including Favre, seven players are listed as questionable -- fullback Brandon Miree (elbow), tight end David Martin (ribs), defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins (ankle), running back Vernand Morency (back), linebacker Tracy White (knee, quad) and cornerback Charles Woodson (shoulder, knee).

Of those players, all but Miree and White missed the team portion of practice. Miree is recovering from the most significant injury, which has forced him to miss the last three games, but he says he's getting closer to being able to play and is hopeful for this week.

Running back Ahman Green (probable, knee) sat out practice on Wednesday, as has become part of his routine this season.

Day off

McCarthy gave the team Thanksgiving Day off, so the team will have two more practices on Friday and Saturday to prepare for Monday night's game at Seattle.

The players and coaches already seem anxious to return to the field and erase the memories of the shutout loss to New England last Sunday, but the day off will do the team some good.

"I think this extra day is probably more important for us from a physical standpoint, because we do have a number of guys that are nicked and injured," McCarthy said. "But mentally, I wish we had probably two days shorter so we could get out there and go play again. But this extra day will really help us to get the health of our football team in better shape."

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