'We Have to Figure This Out'

Mark Tauscher as a kicker? It's possible. Coach Mike Sherman is looking for any kind of remedy within the team in an effort for the Packers to get more distance on their kickoffs, even if its an offensive lineman booting the ball downfield.<p>

Sherman has vowed to find a way to help kicker Ryan Longwell or find a different player who can place the ball deeper into opponents' territory on kickoffs. On Sunday, Longwell struggled against the Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field. Chicago won the battle of field position against the Packers with an average start on their own 39 compared to the Packers' average start on their own 26. The Bears started at their own 45, the Packers' 45 and 41, and their own 39 yard lines in the third quarter because of short kickoffs by Ryan Longwell and short punts by Josh Bidwell.

Toward the end of the Packers 17-7 win over the Bears, Longwell was ordered by the coaches to squib kick the ball downfield because he was not getting the ball downfield on his regular kickoffs.

"We have to fix the field position on our kickoffs - the hang time, the direction, the distance, the location ... all those things play a part in that," said Sherman. "We're going to get that fixed this week."

Sherman planned to meet with Longwell, who has missed nine field goals this season, before the team returns to practice Wednesday. The Packers brought in free agent James Tuthill during the week prior to their Nov. 18 home game against Atlanta, but used Longwell on kickoffs instead. Tuthill was released a day after the game.

After the game, I put this on Ryan. We have to figure this out by Wednesday," Sherman said. "The two of us are going to get together to figure out the best way to kick the ball for him and our football team."

Because of a number of injured players on the active roster, the Packers can ill afford to give up a roster spot for a kicker. Kick return specialist Allen Rossum (knee), defensive end John Thierry (knee), and nose tackle Gilbert Brown (toe) did not suit up against the Bears on Sunday. Linebacker Nate Wayne is expected to miss the next two games because of a broken bone in his back that he suffered against the Bears.

"The options are not very many, to be honest with you," Sherman said.

Sherman is reluctant to try punter Josh Bidwell, but may take a look at others.

"‘Tausch' (Tauscher) can do just about anything on our football team," Sherman said. "Maybe he's a candidate. Maybe he can go out there and do it. I would rather get this fixed with Ryan Longwell. I've brought in numerous kickers and tried them out, only to be disappointed on the Saturday morning (before the game) when the real test is to see if they can kick off or not. And they didn't get it done.

"I know Ryan Longwell. I trust him. I have confidence in him. It's not working just right right now. It was a soft, soft field. I'm not making excuses for him and he's not making any for him. But it was a soft field and the footing was very suspect. That plays a part in it as well. And we're going to play on a soft field. So we have to prepare for that. Maybe we've been kicking too much indoors. I thought about a lot of different venues to correct this.


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