Age is a problem for young Packers

Five of their most important players are the team's oldest players: Donald Driver, Chad Clifton, Mark Tauscher, Al Harris and Charles Woodson.

The Packers were the NFL's youngest team last season, and when you remove graybeards Brett Favre and Rob Davis from the equation, that statistic is likely to hold true in 2008, as well.

That doesn't necessarily mean the best days are ahead of this team, however.

Any listing of the team's top 10 players would have to include, in no particular order, Donald Driver, Chad Clifton, Mark Tauscher, Al Harris and Charles Woodson. Those are the Packers' five oldest players. Harris and Driver are 33, Clifton just turned 32, Woodson will turn 32 at midseason and Tauscher just turned 31.

How long can this group — who all play critical positions — continue to play at Pro Bowl-caliber levels? That's the million-dollar question for a team with a ton of talent but with a first-year starting quarterback.

It's risky to make broad judgments from the organized team activities and minicamps, when the players were wearing shorts and contact was limited to nothing more than paddycake. Seeing Clifton on the sideline every day, while a wise move by coach Mike McCarthy, might not bode well over the long haul for a player who anchors the all-important left tackle position. The other four, however, seem primed for solid seasons.

That quintet can't play at high levels forever, though. It's hard to say how many starters-in-waiting are on the roster, but at least general manager Ted Thompson has tried to build depth at those positions.

If the Packers are set at any position, it's at wide receiver, where Greg Jennings seems capable of taking over as the No. 1 when Driver's play finally starts to slip. Behind them as potential starters are James Jones and Jordy Nelson.

Daryn Colledge has been a disappointment as a starting left guard, but he was a tackle at Boise State, and perhaps that would be his natural position in the NFL. Behind Tauscher is Tony Moll, who can't stay healthy, is intriguing and feisty rookie Breno Giacomini.

Depth behind cornerbacks Harris and Woodson is more problematic. After quarterback and defensive ends who can stop the run and rush the passer, cornerback is the toughest position to fill in the NFL.

The coaches rave about Tramon Williams, and rookie Pat Lee played a lot of bump-and-run at Auburn. It's impossible to say whether either are potential quality NFL starters, though. Lee didn't look all that great during OTAs and minicamp.

All of which puts pressure on Aaron Rodgers and Mike McCarthy and his coaches. The Packers are in position to be long-term winners. But they're in better position to win today.

Steve Lawrence is a frequent contributor to E-mail him at

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