Taylor Thrilled For Another Chance

It'll be a long week of studying for Herb Taylor, who was signed on Tuesday and could potentially play on Sunday. Taylor hasn't played a snap in the NFL since getting in for one play late in a game in 2008.

Herb Taylor arrived in Green Bay on Monday night.

His crash course in the Green Bay Packers' offense started at 7 a.m. on Tuesday.

"They were nice enough to let me sleep Monday night," Taylor said. "Tuesday was an all-day thing, just trying to get in the playbook, learn the system, learn the calls (and) concepts."

The Packers' offensive line is such a mess that coach Mike McCarthy expects Taylor to be on the 46-man gameday roster when the team hosts Chicago on Christmas night.

"I think I'll be ready," said Taylor, who was a senior at TCU in 2006 when the Packers' starting left tackle, Marshall Newhouse, was a freshman. "Marshall's been helping me out a lot, (offensive line coach James Campen) is helping me out a lot. My focus is good. I don't have a hard time in playbooks. That's one advantage I think have — being able to learn a system quickly so I can limit the amount of errors I make, even in practice."

By the end of training camp, offensive tackle was one of the team's major strengths. A healthy Chad Clifton was coming off a Pro Bowl season and ready to start at left tackle for a 12th consecutive season. Bryan Bulaga, the Packers' first-round pick in 2010, was arguably the team's best offensive player at practice and the preseason. Newhouse was arguably the team's most improved player with a superb camp and entered the season as Green Bay's sixth lineman, ahead of the first-round pick Derek Sherrod.

Of those four, only Newhouse is left standing. Clifton returned to practice on Wednesday, almost 11 weeks after sustaining a serious hamstring issue on Oct. 9 at Atlanta. While McCarthy didn't rule out Clifton playing on Sunday, that seems incredibly unlikely. Bulaga sustained a sprained kneecap last week. McCarthy hasn't ruled out Bulaga, either, though he'll likely miss at least this week's game and perhaps next week's finale against Detroit. At least he'll be back for the playoffs; Sherrod is out for the season with a broken leg.

Backup plan? What backup plan? From left to right, the starters figure to be Newhouse, Evan Dietrich-Smith, Scott Wells, Josh Sitton and T.J. Lang. Behind them would be undrafted free agent Ray Dominguez, whose best spot is guard, Clifton and Taylor.

"We're a little thin there," McCarthy said, stating the obvious.

So, that puts the pressure on Taylor to get up to speed incredibly quickly, which means some long days with Campen as he dives head-first into the playbook by learning guard and tackle.

"I'm in his right pocket," Taylor said. "We're going to get to know each other a lot better these next couple days and next couple weeks. It's going to be a challenge for me and for us. I think we can do it. I'm up for it."

Taylor doesn't exactly have a ton of experience to fall back on. He played two games for the Chiefs as a sixth-round draft pick in 2007, then played in all 16 games in 2008. He saw significant action in just three games in 2008, including a start at left tackle in the Week 5 game against Carolina.

Taylor failed to stick with the Chiefs in 2009 — he was signed late in the season by Denver but never played — was cut by the Giants at the end of camp in 2010 and didn't make the Broncos' final roster this past summer. His last snap in a regular-season game came in Week 16 in 2008, when he lined up for one play as an extra tight end, according to Pro Football Focus.

To stay sharp and keep in shape, he played for Las Vegas of the UFL, though that league's truncated four-game season didn't help as much as he would have liked. The Locomotives reached the championship game, giving him a fifth game on Oct. 21. After that, though, Taylor didn't get so much as a workout until the Packers brought him in a couple weeks ago. When he got down on his prospects, his wife and mother kept in his ear and kept him motivated.

"It gets in your head at times, but this is what I want to do," Taylor said. "This is what I've been working for all my life, so I had to stay focused on the end result and keep pushing."

Taylor considers this an early Christmas present, even though he'll spend it away from his wife and 2-year-old son, who remain at home in Houston. Clearly, having a chance to contribute for a team with championship aspirations beats the alternative for a man craving another shot at the big time.

"I'm happy to say that I'm spending my Christmas up here rather than with my family," Taylor said. "It is what it is. It's another opportunity. Preferably, I'll go out there and do my best and provide the team with all they need."

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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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