Notebook: Tauscher Headed For I.R.

Head Coach Mike McCarthy announced on Monday that veteran offensive tackle Mark Tauscher tore the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his left knee in Sunday’s game and will be placed on season-ending injured reserve later this week. - More Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - Dec. 8


Head Coach Mike McCarthy announced on Monday that veteran offensive tackle Mark Tauscher tore the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his left knee in Sunday's game and will be placed on season-ending injured reserve later this week.

The loss is a big blow to the Packers, not only on the field but from a leadership standpoint in the locker room. Tauscher, a starter since his rookie season of 2000, had played in all 16 games in four of the past five seasons since coming back from an ACL tear to the same knee in 2002 and is considered a warrior and respected leader amongst his teammates.

"He's the guy you point to," McCarthy said. "He's a true pro. Practices hard.

"He's lined up and he's done everything we've asked. Very steady person. Has an excellent disposition for the position and really for our football team. Just consistent through and through."

Depending on the player, rehabilitation from an ACL reconstruction can take anywhere from six to 12 months, so it's difficult to project whether Tauscher would be recovered in time for training camp next summer, or if his return to the field would more likely be at some point during the regular season.

He's in the final year of his current contract, and McCarthy didn't address his future, other than to say the hope is Tauscher can have the necessary surgery sometime next week and get started on his rehab right away.

Third-year pro Tony Moll stepped in for Tauscher when he went down early in the second quarter on Sunday, and Moll will likely be the team's right tackle the rest of this season. He filled in for Tauscher for the final five games in 2006, Moll's rookie year, when Tauscher was out with a groin injury, which had been the only games Tauscher has missed since his first knee injury six years ago.

The coaching staff said Moll played fine on Sunday, and it certainly helps to have a backup with Moll's level of experience. Moll has started 16 games in his career, most of them at guard.

"Without a doubt, I have 100 percent confidence in going out there," Moll said. "It will be a little easier than my rookie year when I was just thrown in there."

For now, it appears rookie Breno Giacomini will be the backup right tackle, though McCarthy indicated rookie Josh Sitton and second-year pro Allen Barbre could get some work there in a backup capacity as well. Sitton has played almost exclusively at guard during his first season, while Barbre has played mostly guard and some tackle, though on the left side.

No matter how the depth chart shakes out, though, the close-knit linemen will certainly miss Tauscher the rest of the way. Their mood was predictably somber on Monday.

"For one he's our player rep, so obviously that shows everybody respects him, that he is a leader in this locker room," center Scott Wells said. "It's tough to have him as a friend and as a teammate go through something like that for the second time in his career, to have an issue like that. It's tough."

Looking inward

For the third time in his three seasons as head coach, McCarthy faces the task of ending a losing streak at three games and not allowing it to stretch any further.

Interestingly, the previous three-game losing streaks - two in 2006 and one this season - were snapped when the team went on the road, as it will do this week in traveling to Jacksonville. The other streak-busting wins came at San Francisco (Dec. 10, 2006) and at Seattle (Oct. 12, 2008).

"Everybody's disappointed, everybody's frustrated," McCarthy said. "No one's happy about what's gone on here. But we know the only people that can fix it is us. That will be our focus.

"It's disappointing for the amount of work, the quality of work that this team puts in throughout the week, everybody involved, and we're not getting the outcomes that we want. It's something that we need to continue to work at.

"Our work ethic and our character is the only thing that's going to pull us out of this."

Glaring third-down numbers

Games are often won and lost on third down, and the Packers lost the third-down battle badly on both sides of the ball Sunday against Houston.

On defense, the Packers allowed the Texans to convert 7-of-13 (54 percent), including five conversions of 5 yards or longer. Meanwhile Green Bay's offense was just 1-of-10 (10 percent), including a frustrating 1-of-7 when needing 5 yards or less.

{sportsad300}"That's favorable down and distance," McCarthy said. "We didn't do a very good job of winning the one-on-one's (on pass routes). We missed some throws there. We gave up a sack versus seven-man protection that should have never occurred. We made some fundamental mistakes; we are usually a pretty good third-down team."

Indeed, the Packers came into Sunday's game tied for seventh in the league in third-down offense, converting 44.4 percent. The season rate is now 42.5 percent after Sunday's rough day.

"We wish it was one guy who kept running a bad route or the quarterback who kept missing it, or a lineman who kept missing a block, but unfortunately we had a little bit of everything," offensive coordinator Joe Philbin said. "Sometimes the route-running wasn't what we have coached, sometimes the throw wasn't quite there, we gave up a sack or two, so the protection at times wasn't quite what we wanted it to be. As is typically the case, it's a culmination of a lot of things."

Injury update

Other than Tauscher, it sounds as though the only player almost certainly out for this week's game is fullback Korey Hall, who has a sprained knee.

Among other injuries from the game, safety Nick Collins (shin bruise) might miss some practice time, but McCarthy expects him to be able to play on Sunday. Tight end Tory Humphrey (calf, thumb) and linebacker Danny Lansanah (arm bruise) are expected to be OK as well.

Ongoing injuries include those to linebacker Brandon Chillar (groin) and defensive end Jeremy Thompson (knee, ankle). Both are expected to test their injuries prior to Wednesday's practice, and their status for the week will be updated then.

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