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Notebook: Uncertainty For Sunday At Two Spots

Heading into Sunday’s NFC showdown with the Dallas Cowboys, two starting positions, one on each side of the ball, are up in the air because of injuries. - More Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - Nov. 11

Heading into Sunday's NFC showdown with the Dallas Cowboys, two starting positions, one on each side of the ball, are up in the air because of injuries.

One is at right tackle, where rookie T.J. Lang took the majority of the first-team reps in Wednesday's practice with both Mark Tauscher and Allen Barbre battling injuries.

Tauscher, coming off of ACL reconstruction surgery this offseason, played in his first game this season at Tampa Bay, getting the start and rotating with Barbre at right tackle throughout the first half.

But on the first series of the second half, a Buccaneers defensive lineman rolled into the back of Tauscher's left leg, and he sustained a sprain to the same knee that he injured in 2008. Barbre played the rest of the second half in Tauscher's place, but sustained a concussion toward the end of the contest.

Tauscher, who did not participate at all in Wednesday's practice, has an "outside chance" to play against the Cowboys according to Head Coach Mike McCarthy, while Barbre was limited on Wednesday, and his status is unknown.

That left Lang, who has started two games this season at left tackle, to take the majority of the snaps on the right side on Wednesday. The rookie has already done his fair share of bouncing around this season, seeing time at both of the guard spots during the preseason before making the shift to left tackle after Chad Clifton sustained an ankle injury in Week 2.

"Anytime you have to bounce around, it's a challenge," Lang said. "I finally felt like I was starting to settle into left tackle a little bit. I came in today and bounced over to right tackle. But you've got to be open-minded.

"Anything that it takes to get out on the field, you've got to do, whether it's playing guard, tackle, either side. It doesn't matter. It's been challenging really to flop mentally more than physically, just learning the plays and flipping your mindset."

Lang did work at right tackle during OTAs and mini-camp, but during training camp the reps went to Barbre and second-year man Breno Giacomini as they were in a competition for the starting spot.

The last time Lang started at right tackle in a game was his sophomore year at Eastern Michigan, when he opened the first 10 games of the season there before shifting over to left tackle for the final two contests. He started all 24 games over his final two collegiate seasons at left tackle.

"Just switching your mindset and physically switching your body up to go play the right side, it's tough," Lang said. "It's something that I've had some background in, so it's not like I am playing a new position. It's been a while since I have played there, but today I was out there. I felt a little rusty at times, but for the most part I think I feel pretty good out there."

While the starter at right tackle is unknown at this point, McCarthy said the rest of the line would remain the same as last week at Tampa Bay.

The other position that has some uncertainty for Sunday is left outside linebacker, where both of the top two players on the depth chart, Aaron Kampman and Brady Poppinga, missed practice on Wednesday.

Kampman sustained a concussion on the fourth play of Sunday's game in Tampa Bay, but didn't leave the game until the fourth quarter after noticing some symptoms.

"I want to make sure that everyone knows that the Packers didn't know anything, as far as the medical staff, Pepper (Burruss) and his staff, John Gray and those guys, they didn't know any of this stuff," Kampman said. "And I didn't even know it really, because you're kind of just in your own mind and doing your job and trying to help us win. Once I started having a few (symptoms), then I knew it was time for me to get out."

Kampman, who hasn't missed a game due to injury since an injured ankle sidelined him for four games in 2003, will continue to be tested each day, but isn't expected to practice until Friday at the earliest.

"Just (get) some rest and that's all you can really do," Kampman said. "You can't ice and stim your head, so just give it some rest and make sure it's where it needs to be before I go back out."

"I think you're always trying to be on the ready and with the game plan and things like that, but first and foremost I have to make sure that I am right upstairs."

Poppinga, who filled in for Kampman for the remainder of the Tampa Bay game, sustained a quad injury that showed up on Tuesday according to McCarthy. Poppinga underwent an MRI on Wednesday morning, but the results were not yet known.

With the two veterans sidelined, rookie Brad Jones worked with the No. 1 defense on Wednesday. After being a healthy scratch for the first two games, he has made an impact on special teams, posting eight tackles in six games played.

"I just approach it like I approach every week," Jones said. "Who knows, if they need me to play I'm obviously in tip-top (shape) mentally and physically, ready to play always. So if they need me to play it won't be a problem at all. I'll be real excited.

"I get excited just being able to make an impact on special teams. Any little chance I get, any opportunity they give me to shine, my excitement goes through the roof."

Jones, who played in a 3-4 scheme at Colorado, missed time during training camp due to a back injury, but returned to play in the final three preseason contests, where he posted six tackles and a sack/forced fumble.

"We're working all of our different combinations, so as far as who is starting, time will answer that," said McCarthy, who added that Jeremy Thompson will also get work in practice at the left outside linebacker spot. "I couldn't tell you if Brady is going to be back this week, I couldn't tell you if Aaron is going to make it.

"But Brad has done a lot of good things, particularly on special teams. He's been very productive. He missed some time there in training camp and has really, really progressed, and he'll be ready if he has that opportunity.

Back at it

Wide receiver Jordy Nelson, who sustained a sprained knee in Week 6 vs. Detroit on a first-half punt return, returned to practice on a limited basis for the first time since the injury occurred.

Nelson had seven catches for 104 yards and a touchdown before the injury, and was also handling both punt- and kick-return duties after Will Blackmon was lost for the season in Week 4 with a torn ACL.

{sportsad300}"As far as whether he'll be the kick returner, I'm not sure if we're ready for that yet," McCarthy said. "We'll see how the week goes. I thought he looked good out there today. He came on strong last week during his workouts.

"How much he plays or if he plays, we're going to really let the week sort that out."

Nelson had some success in his limited opportunities as a kickoff returner before getting hurt, posting a 29.3-yard average on seven returns.

"Jordy was very productive with his opportunities," McCarthy said. "You never want to lose productive players to injuries, but I think that's something that we've got to continue to do a better job of.

"It's something we came off of last year where we felt we didn't overcome our injuries, and we've had some spots this year where we're not doing a good enough job overcoming our injuries. So it's great to have Jordy back, great to have him healthy. Once again, you can't have enough productivity."

Ahman Green has handled kickoff-return duties the last two weeks, registering a 21.8-yard average on nine returns, highlighted by a season-long 37-yarder at Tampa Bay on Sunday. Tramon Williams has been the primary punt returner since Nelson's injury and has an 8.6-yard average on nine returns this season.

Injury/participation update

Besides Kampman and Poppinga, linebacker Brandon Chillar (hand) and tight end Jermichael Finley (knee) also did not participate in practice on Wednesday.

McCarthy said Finley had a good workout on Wednesday, but still needs to be cleared by the medical staff before he can get back on the field.

"We always play the high end of player safety," McCarthy said. "I know Jermichael wants to play. Everybody is excited to get him back on the field. But Dr. McKenzie has been doing this a long time. So until he clears that last hurdle, he won't be playing. He's getting close."

Nelson, Barbre, defensive end Cullen Jenkins (ankle), quarterback Aaron Rodgers (feet) and cornerback Charles Woodson (hip) were limited participants.

Wide receiver Jake Allen (quad), fullback Korey Hall (calf) and safety Derrick Martin (concussion) participated fully in practice. For Hall, it was the first time he was a full participant since sustaining the injury during an Oct. 12 practice.

For Dallas, center Andre Gurode (ankle), safety Ken Hamlin (groin) and cornerback Allen Rossum (hamstring) did not participate.

Running back Marion Barber (thumb), safety Gerald Sensabaugh (thumb) and linebacker DeMarcus Ware (foot) were full participants.

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