Uncertainty as Tauscher, Packers Mull Future

Wisconsin legend Mark Tauscher said he's not sure what his future holds after another injury-shortened season. Then again, even if he wants to return, would the Packers want him back? We have the story from Greg Jennings' charity golf tournament.

T.J. Lang worked out with Mark Tauscher when several of the Green Bay Packers' offensive linemen got together in Tennessee recently.

"He looks good," Lang told Packer Report last week.

"T.J. doesn't know what he's talking about," was Tauscher's rebuttal before the start of Greg Jennings' charity golf tournament on Friday at Merrill Hills Country Club in Waukesha.

The right tackle called last season a "roller coaster." Tauscher, who was born in Wisconsin, played collegiately at Wisconsin and has spent his entire 11-year career in Green Bay, wound up being a spectator for most of his first Super Bowl season.

Tauscher, whose recovery from a torn ACL helped save the 2009 season, easily retained his starting job last summer. However, for the third consecutive year and the fourth time in five seasons, he failed to make it through the 16-game slate. This time, his season was cut short by a badly sprained shoulder. In four games, he allowed two sacks and was penalized three times — including a holding call in a loss at Chicago that erased a touchdown. For comparison, he was blamed for two sacks and three penalties in eight games in 2009 and two sacks and one penalty in 2008, according to STATS.

Tauscher, who turns 34 on June 17, spoke only vaguely about his future when asked by a couple of reporters outside the clubhouse.

"At this point, I'm just strictly worried about getting my shoulder right," Tauscher said. "I want to be able to play golf. When the lockout ends, I'm sure we'll get things figured out one way or the other."

The noncommittal answer notwithstanding, that Tauscher made the trek to Tennessee spoke volumes about his desire to keep playing.

In a perfect world, does he see himself putting on his shoulder pads and red-white-and-blue knee brace when training camp begins this summer?

"We don't live in a perfect world," Tauscher said.

Chided for taking the easy way out with that answer, Tauscher repeated what he had said earlier about focusing on his rehab and making a final decision at some point between the end of the lockout and the start of training camp.

If Tauscher elects to play again this coming season, the question is whether he'd be playing for the Packers. In his absence, 2010 first-round pick Bryan Bulaga acquitted himself nicely — especially down the stretch and in the playoffs. With veteran Chad Clifton entrenched at left tackle for at least another season and back-to-back first-round picks used on tackles Bulaga and Derek Sherrod, Tauscher would be an expensive backup with a combined total of $4.38 million in base salary and roster bonus.

One option would be to ask for his release — which the Packers certainly would do as a courtesy. Or, he could retire and perhaps serve the organization as an assistant coach. While injured last year, coach Mike McCarthy made it a point to take Tauscher on road trips to take advantage of his knowledge and leadership.

While Tauscher sidestepped a question about being a coach, one of his teammates made that role seem like a natural fit — assuming Tauscher calls it quits.

"I know he's definitely hungry to get back to work," Lang said. "He did everything we did with the workouts and the position stuff and I didn't see him moaning about any injuries. It's exciting. Mark's a great guy. Especially for the young guys, the knowledge that he has about the game, he's very valuable to be around. He's one of the guys who set everything up so you can tell he's hungry to get back to work."


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport.


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