Minnesota Vikings head coach Brad Childress confirmed on Tuesday that rookie Tarvaris Jackson will start at quarterback Thursday night in place of veteran Brad Johnson.
That's going to make it much harder for the Packers defense to duplicate the four sacks recorded against the Vikings in the Nov. 12 victory because Jackson is a much more mobile quarterback who can not only elude the rush but also make plays with his feet.
"The change is that we're going to have to be more careful on our pass rushes," defensive tackle Corey Williams said. "We can't get out of our rush lanes because that type of quarterback they're starting, he can run around and stuff. He'll tuck the ball and run with it if you give him an opening, and that's something we have to eliminate."
Jackson, a second-round draft choice out of Division I-AA Alabama State, has played in relief of Johnson in two of Minnesota's last three games. Last Sunday against the Jets, he completed 14 of 23 passes for 177 yards and added 20 rushing yards in three attempts.
One of the biggest plays in Green Bay's 23-17 victory at Minnesota last month came when linebacker Brady Poppinga blitzed and sacked Johnson, forcing a fumble that Williams recovered to set up the Packers' first touchdown.
The Packers still plan to rush Jackson aggressively to make him uncomfortable and force perhaps some typical "rookie mistakes," but at the same time they'll need to be conscious of where their defensive teammates are so no gaping holes open for Jackson.
"It's not just a matter of trying to get to him," said defensive lineman Cullen Jenkins, who had a career-high three sacks last week. "You have to try to get to him in a way that doesn't allow him to scramble."
Favre feels he's still got it
Brett Favre knows he doesn't move around as well as he used to, and he's far from satisfied with his 74.8 passer rating this season, but he still feels he has a lot of ability left in his 37-year-old body.
"I feel good in the sense that I'm out there practicing every day, seeing the plays I make and the throws that I make," Favre said Tuesday at his news conference. "I know I can do it.
"For me, I'm never going to rush for 100 yards in the game, but if I can make the first guy miss and make a play, then I know I still got it."
Favre says he's more critical of himself now than earlier in his career, and he is frustrated with some of the offensive struggles this season, particularly last Sunday against Detroit, when he pointed a fair share of blame at himself.
But he does think he can still play at a high level, so whether or not Thursday ends up being his last game at Lambeau Field will more likely hinge on whether he wants to play than whether he feels he still can. He also likes the progress he's seen in the 2006 Packers, though he stopped short of saying that would be a dominant factor in his decision-making process this off-season.
"I'm in it to win, and I think this team has the potential to do that," he said. "It's been fun. I've had a lot of fun dealing with these guys this year.
"I'm not content with 6-8, but in some ways it's been enjoyable and that makes it easier. But it ultimately comes down to what I want to do, what am I willing to do."
Tauscher ready this week
Offensive tackle Mark Tauscher practiced on Tuesday and said he's ready to play on Thursday night after missing the past five games.
"The diagnosis from the beginning was eight to 12 weeks, and it was a situation where I wasn't going to be stupid about things," he said. "I needed to be patient."
Tauscher, who injured his groin in the first meeting with Minnesota, returned to practice last week but was not back to full speed and said it was the right decision to hold off until this week's game.
"There comes a point where you have to kind of look at if you're going to be effective, and I needed to get a couple days to kind of feel where I was at," he said. "I don't necessarily think I would have been as effective as I would have been coming in this week, so I'm hoping that the extra couple of days is going to help me play better."