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Notebook: Veteran Tackles Getting Healthy

Head Coach Mike McCarthy said that he will once again take the full week of practice before making a final decision on the starting offensive line, but there is a chance that the tackles at Tampa Bay could be two players who have been mainstays on Green Bay’s line for much of this decade. - More Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - Nov. 4


Head Coach Mike McCarthy said that he will once again take the full week of practice before making a final decision on the starting offensive line, but there is a chance that the tackles at Tampa Bay could be two players who have been mainstays on Green Bay's line for much of this decade.

Mark Tauscher, who re-signed with the team on Oct. 12 after rehabbing a torn ACL sustained in Week 14 last season vs. Houston, took the majority of the first-team snaps at right tackle on Wednesday for the first time since re-joining the Packers. Allen Barbre has started all seven games at right tackle thus far this season.

The Packers have brought Tauscher along slowly, limiting his reps in practice the first two weeks before working him into team drills last week. He was active for the first time this season on Sunday against Minnesota, but did not play.

"I think he feels like he has his legs totally underneath him," McCarthy said. "The plan that we have gone through for these three weeks in hindsight was the right plan. I know Dr. McKenzie feels better and better about where Mark is every week.

"His communication has been positive, but we'll see where he is after every practice. He's hitting different targets every week, but I thought he looked good today."

On the other side of the line, left tackle Chad Clifton was a full participant in a Wednesday practice for the first time since re-injuring his ankle in the third quarter of the Week 6 contest vs. Detroit. He originally sustained the injury vs. Cincinnati in Week 2.

Clifton has been inactive for three games due to the injury, with rookie T.J. Lang starting the last two contests in his place. Like Tauscher, Clifton was active on Sunday against the Vikings, but did not play.

"Chad Clifton looked healthy today," McCarthy said. "So really (we'll) see how Chad responds tomorrow from today's practice. Hopefully (Clifton and Tauscher will) both go through the padded practice tomorrow and we'll see where they are."

Clifton and Tauscher bring a great deal of experience with a combined 249 regular-season starts between them. The tandem started 12 games together in 2008 and the line allowed just 23 sacks in those contests, compared to 11 sacks in the other four games the unit didn't have both tackles healthy. The Packers have allowed a league-high 31 sacks this season.

"It's comforting because those guys have been playing at a high level for a long time," quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. "They bring a lot of character to our team, and when they are healthy they are very good players. I think they have shown that in the past.

"Whoever is going to line up in front of us, it's a matter of communicating, me being consistent with my reads and trusting my feet, and us winning those one-on-one battles."

Sitting out

Rodgers did not participate in Wednesday's practice because of a sprained foot and a sprained toe on his other foot, but is expected to be fine for Sunday's game.

"He was involved in the drills (Wednesday), but they just feel with the foot sprain and the toe sprain, (he needs) as much time as you can to let it settle down," McCarthy said. "So we'll look at him tomorrow. I would project he'll probably go Friday. Tomorrow maybe limited and have him work Friday, but I fully anticipate him playing in the game."

Rodgers has some experience with not practicing or being limited leading up to a game due to injury, having done it for several weeks last season after injuring his throwing shoulder at Tampa Bay in Week 4.

"You'd like to be out there and continue to work on your timing," Rodgers said. "I think the only thing last year proved was that I could do it and still play well. I had a pretty good game against Atlanta and then I followed it up with a better game against Seattle. Those were two of my better games on the season and I was playing with pretty good pain.

"As tough as it is not to practice, and you kind of miss out on some timing stuff and working on some individual plays you might put in that week, it just kind of gave me confidence that I could still play and compete at a high level despite not practicing."

Taking blame

The Packers were flagged six times on Sunday against the Vikings, but the most significant penalty came in the first quarter.

With Minnesota facing a third-and-5 at the Green Bay 9, linebacker Nick Barnett stopped running back Chester Taylor for a 5-yard loss on a swing pass in the right flat. Defensive end Johnny Jolly ran down the field to congratulate Barnett, but was bumped by Taylor as he headed to Barnett. Jolly then head-butted Taylor, and was flagged for a personal foul.

It gave the Vikings new life on the drive with a first down at the Green Bay 7, and four plays later running back Adrian Peterson took it in for the touchdown. After the game on Sunday, Jolly said that he "plays on the edge every game" and that the officials could have called it either way.

But on Wednesday, Jolly expressed remorse for the penalty that opened the door for the Vikings to score four more points.

{sportsad300}"I shouldn't have let my emotions take over me on that play because Nick had made a great play on third down," Jolly said. "We could have been off the field. That gave them the opportunity to get three more snaps going into the touchdown they scored. Next time it won't happen like that.

"That was totally my fault. Actually I told all of the guys in the game that that was my fault, but I just let my emotions take over me and I shouldn't have done that. I'm a better person than that."

Slow going

Jason Spitz has been sidelined for the past three games with a back injury, and McCarthy said Wednesday that the fourth-year center has not made much progress.

Spitz did not participate in practice again on Wednesday. He was inactive for games vs. Detroit and vs. Minnesota and played only on extra points at Cleveland.

"Hopefully we can continue with his treatment and rehab and hopefully make some progress," McCarthy said. "I know he is frustrated. I know Dr. McKenzie is a little concerned. I say it every time we ask the question about Jason Spitz, it is a low back injury so there is that uncertainty there. But hopefully he'll start to make some more progress here."

Since the Packers have nine other linemen on the 53-man roster, McCarthy said they will take their time with Spitz before they would consider placing him on season-ending injured reserve.

"There is a reason why we are going through the time frame as far as going through the second opinion and I know Pat (McKenzie) is going to do some more work on Jason based on our conversation this morning," McCarthy said. "This is the most offensive linemen we have had on the 53 in my time here, so our numbers are OK to answer your question. But we're going to give Jason every chance to get healthy."

Injury/participation update

Linebacker Brandon Chillar (hand) is out for Sunday. McCarthy said Wednesday that A.J. Hawk will take the majority of reps in both the base and nickel defense in Chillar's spot.

McCarthy would not put a time frame on Chillar's return, only saying they would re-evaluate where he is at a week from now heading into the Dallas game.

Rodgers, Spitz, wide receivers Donald Driver (neck) and Jordy Nelson (knee), tight end Jermichael Finley (knee) and cornerback Charles Woodson (hip) did not participate in Wednesday's practice.

Fullback Korey Hall (calf) and safety Derrick Martin (concussion) were limited participants, and Clifton participated fully.

For Tampa Bay, cornerback Aqib Talib (ankle) and guard Jeremy Zuttah (shoulder) were limited in practice on Wednesday.

Wide receivers Antonio Bryant (knee) and Michael Clayton (wrist) were full participants.

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