Tauscher close to returning

Veteran offensive tackle may play against Vikings on Thursday

Right tackle Mark Tauscher appears poised to play again before the end of the season.

All but written off because of a serious groin injury he sustained toward the end of the 23-17 win at Minnesota on Nov. 12, the seventh-year starter returned to practice Thursday.

Tauscher was eased back in, taking part in individual drills and lining up with the scout team during team segments.

Following practice, Tauscher was upgraded from doubtful to questionable for Sunday's game against Detroit at Lambeau Field. Tauscher is expected to get more work in practice Friday before a final determination is made about his status.

In all likelihood, the team will err on the side of caution and keep Tauscher out a fifth consecutive game but aim to have him ready for the subsequent Thursday contest against Minnesota.

Coach Mike McCarthy expressed optimism early in the week that Tauscher would be available for the Vikings game.

The offense has felt the prolonged absence of Tauscher. Rookie replacement Tony Moll has been inconsistent both as a run blocker and in pass protection.

The Packers were held to 44 and 51 rushing yards by New England and Seattle, respectively, the first two games without Tauscher. The output picked up the last two outings with 149 and 139 yards against the Jets and 49ers.

Lead back Ahman Green, though, has managed only one 100-yard game and averaged just 62.8 yards per game with Tauscher sidelined. In defense of Green and the Tauscher-less line, circumstances limited him to 12, 14 and 14 carries those first three games -- all substantial losses for Green Bay -- before he had 21 carries for 77 yards in an 11-point win at San Francisco last Sunday.

"We've tried the past few games to get more balance (between the run and the pass). Last game, we were a little more successful with that," center Scott Wells said.

With Tauscher in the lineup, the Packers had one of their more feeble rushing efforts in Week 3 against Detroit, which held them to 60 yards and Green to a paltry average of 2.9 yards in 22 carries.

Those numbers figure to go up in the division rivals' rematch Sunday at Green Bay. The Lions are without their feared plugger in the middle of the defensive line, Shaun Rogers, who is on injured reserve because of complications from knee surgery. Detroit has allowed more than 160 rushing yards in five of the seven games minus its All-Pro tackle.

The Packers aren't counting oodles of yards on the ground before they've been generated, however.

"They've had some experience with (Rogers) out earlier in the year, so guys have stepped in and had to play that position. It's not like we're going against some green guys that have never played," Wells said. "They still have an excellent defense, and we still have to go out there and execute our fundamentals."

Packer Report Top Stories