Team's Health Improving; Tauscher 'Questionable' But Confident He'll Play

The Packers came out of last Monday’s game at New Orleans a bit banged up, but at the end of the week the injury situation isn’t nearly as big a concern as it might have been. Of the season-high 19 players on this week’s injury report, 13 of them were full participants in practice on Friday and are listed as probable for Sunday’s game. Of the remaining players, veteran offensive tackle Mark Tauscher (hamstring) is listed as questionable but sounded reasonably confident in his chances to play.

The Packers came out of last Monday's game at New Orleans a bit banged up, but at the end of the week the injury situation isn't nearly as big a concern as it might have been.

Of the season-high 19 players on this week's injury report, 13 of them were full participants in practice on Friday and are listed as probable for Sunday's game, meaning there's a virtual certainty they'll be available for normal duty against the Carolina Panthers. One other player, defensive end Michael Montgomery (ankle), did not participate in Friday's practice but is also listed as probable.

Of the remaining five players, of utmost concern is veteran offensive tackle Mark Tauscher (hamstring), who was limited in practice for the second straight day and is listed as questionable, which is classified as a 50 percent chance of playing. But both Tauscher and Head Coach Mike McCarthy sounded reasonably confident his chances are better than that for Sunday.

"It's an important game," McCarthy said. "Mark realizes that. Our whole football team realizes that."

Coming off a short week, the Packers needed to recover quickly health-wise, and it appears for the most part the team has done so. Here's a position-by-position breakdown of this week's injury report as things stood after practice on Friday:

Offensive line

Tauscher, who left the New Orleans game on the second play with an injured hamstring, has played hurt many times in his career, and therefore knows where the line is between being effective and being a detriment to the team. That's his primary gauge.

"We'll kind of see how it goes, but I feel a lot better as the week has gone on, and I feel like I've made some good improvements," Tauscher said. "If you're able to function and do the things that you need to do when you're playing, you can play. Obviously you want to play every opportunity you get, and this is no different."

After participating only in the jog-through portion of practice on Thursday, Tauscher did the jog-through and some of the team snaps on Friday.

"Mark feels very good about where he is today," McCarthy said. "You could probably put him anywhere between limited and full. We'll just see how he feels after his work today, and we'll give him every opportunity to play in the game Sunday."

If Tauscher can't go, Tony Moll would again take his place. Moll replaced Tauscher in New Orleans, as well as for the final five games in 2006 when Tauscher injured his groin, and the third-year pro fared well last week getting thrown in at a moment's notice.

"Not surprisingly, he was very, very competitive," offensive coordinator Joe Philbin said. "He's a player that over his time here has given us excellent effort every time, and he did that again Monday night.

"He battled out there. It wasn't like we adjusted a whole lot of things or had to put two guys over there or anything like that. He was competitive in his pass protection and at times got relatively good movement in the running game. So overall it was solid."

Linemates Scott Wells (shoulder) and Chad Clifton (knees) were both full participants on Friday and are probable.


Seven of the 19 players on the injury report are in this group, and the biggest concern is at safety, where the team's top four players are all nursing some kind of injury.

Nick Collins (knee, probable) would be the best bet to start. Atari Bigby (ankle), Aaron Rouse (ankle) and Charlie Peprah (calf) were all full participants in practice on Friday, with Bigby and Peprah listed as probable and Rouse as questionable.

McCarthy said he considers them all "in the same boat" and in all likelihood two of the three would be on the active 45-man gameday roster. Peprah missed the New Orleans game but was a full participant in practice Friday for the first time in two weeks.

"I'll go through the medical staff and see what they think," McCarthy said. "Also special teams will factor into that too. We'll look at that throughout the weekend."

Only cornerback Pat Lee (knee) has been ruled out of Sunday's game from this group, while cornerbacks Charles Woodson (toe) and Jarrett Bush (ankle) were full participants and are probable.

Bush is also an option at safety should only three of the safeties be active and other injury problems arise.

Defensive line

In addition to Montgomery, defensive tackle Johnny Jolly (ankle) and defensive end Jeremy Thompson (groin) are listed as probable. That's good news for the position group affected most by injuries throughout the season.

On Friday, Jolly was a full participant in practice for the first time all week. Thompson has missed the last two games with his groin injury but was a full participant for all three practices this week.

Offensive skill positions

Wide receivers James Jones (knee) and Greg Jennings (rib), tight end Tory Humphrey (ankle) and running back Brandon Jackson (ankle) were all full participants on Friday and are probable.

Jennings and Humphrey were upgraded to full after being limited earlier in the week, while Jackson was full for the second straight day. Jones, who has been in and out of the lineup all season with his nagging knee problem, was a full participant all three days this week.

Running back DeShawn Wynn (calf) did not participate in practice all week and is listed as doubtful (25 percent chance of playing).

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