Notebook: More Changes For Line

Mark Tauscher will start at right tackle, meaning yet another game with a different starting combination. Plus, history repeats itself against Dallas; final injury reports; and Friday's four-point stance.

For the fourth consecutive game, the Green Bay Packers will be going with a different starting offensive line combination.

Whether that means one change or two remains to be seen.

Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Mark Tauscher will get the nod at right tackle instead of rookie T.J. Lang, who started last week. Meanwhile, the team is hopeful that center Scott Wells will be ready to go this week. He was a full participant at Friday's practice after missing Thursday with a concussion sustained during a second-quarter running play against Dallas.

"Today was great," Wells said during a lengthy discussion about concussions with a handful of reporters. "That's what you guys should write about."

What's been written about plenty is the season-long troubles of the offensive line, which have played a large role in the Packers' league-high 41 sacks allowed. The lack of continuity is one issue, and most of the revolving door has been at left tackle, where Chad Clifton started the first two games, Daryn Colledge started the next two games, Clifton returned for one game, Lang started for two and Clifton has been back for the last two.

At right tackle, the Packers went form Allen Barbre in Week 8 against Minnesota to Tauscher in Week 9 against Tampa Bay to Lang in Week 10 against Dallas and back to Tauscher for Sunday against San Francisco.

The Packers have used the same quintet in back-to-back games just three times this season and have not had the same starting five for three consecutive games all season.

"That's hard for any offensive line," said Colledge, who would be the emergency center if Wells or Evan Dietrich-Smith (questionable; ankle) can't play. "Guys are playing out of position, guys are trying to establish themselves at one position and have to move to another, that's tough."

It's something that McCarthy hoped to avoid by settling on his starting five relatively early in preseason. Nonetheless, they've had six starting combinations in the first nine games.

Asked if the injuries and ineffective play have led to a "ridiculous" situation, McCarthy said: "Well, ridiculous is probably a little different word, but it's a challenge. I have not as a coordinator, and I can't really probably remember as an assistant coach, have had so much change as far as players missing practice time and the number of starting lineups that you have week in and week out. We felt it was an issue last year and fully was trying to move past that. And this year, it's been a challenge even moreso up to this point. You can't control the injury list, and we're just trying to get healthy, but more importantly trying to get ready to play games."

Wells, however, wouldn't make excuses for the line's up-and-down performances.

"The bottom line is we haven't executed as well as we should have," Wells said. "Whatever you want to throw on there on why that is, that's your opinion. I'm not going to make any excuse for that."

History repeats itself

When Dom Capers was getting his defense ready for last week's game against Dallas, he took a long look at Denver's game against the Cowboys from Oct. 4 because the Broncos run a 3-4 defense.

In that game, two plays struck Capers. The first came with Denver down 10-0. Renaldo Hill blitzed off the corner, sacked Tony Romo and caused a fumble that gave the Broncos the ball at Dallas' 9-yard line. That led to a touchdown. The second came when Champ Bailey picked off a pass at Denver's 3-yard line.

Not unlike Woodson's sack-strip of Romo and Woodson's goal-line interception against Dallas.

"I said, ‘Without those two plays, Denver doesn't win,'" Capers recalled of a conversation with his players.

Packers injury report

Doubtful — T Allen Barbre (ankle). Questionable — G/C Evan Dietrich-Smith (ankle); RB Ahman Green (groin). Probable — LB Desmond Bishop (ankle); LB Brandon Chillar (hand); TE Jermichael Finley (knee); DE Cullen Jenkins (ankle); DE Johnny Jolly (back); LB Brad Jones (concussion); LB Aaron Kampman (concussion); FB John Kuhn (hand); LB Clay Matthews (jaw); LB Brady Poppinga (thigh); T Mark Tauscher (knee); C Scott Wells (concussion); CB Charles Woodson (hip).

While 16 players on the injured list might seem like bad news, 13 of them are listed as probable, including starting defensive ends Jenkins and Jolly. Jenkins hadn't practiced all week.

It's a good thing Tauscher and Lang are ready at right tackle, because Barbre walked through the locker room with a really bad limp and probably won't be ready to play anytime soon. Chillar and Kuhn, meanwhile, will play with club casts. Kuhn tried with a brace on Wednesday but feels better with the cast.

49ers injury report

Out — CB Nate Clements (shoulder); T Joe Staley (knee). Questionable — LB Takeo Spikes (hamstring). Probable — WR Isaac Bruce (ankle and elbow); RB Glen Coffee (concussion); WR Michael Crabtree (knee); DT Demetric Evans (shoulder); S Michael Lewis (quad); RB Michael Robinson (not injury related); S Mark Roman (knee); DE Justin Smith (back); T/G Adam Snyder (shoulder).

Four-point stance

— Matthews was voted the NFC's rookie of the week by fans. He recovered two fumbles and had one sack last week against Dallas.

— Writing on 49ers.com, former Packers safety Mark Roman said: "I'm looking forward to playing in Green Bay against one of my former teams. I played there for two seasons, 2004 to 2005 and I always look forward to playing there because it's such a special place. ... Rain, sleet, or snow, fans will be at the game to support their team. That's probably the biggest thing that makes the place stand out. It's really like a college atmosphere. I remember after practice during my time there, hundreds of fans would be outside of our locker room after the game to meet us. People would come from all over the country to see the Packers play and that kind of home field advantage can't be ignored this Sunday."

— Punter Jeremy Kapinos has the NFL's worst net average, but McCarthy said "Wednesday's kicks were the best of the year" and that Kapinos "kicked the ball fine" on Friday.

— The Packers are 11-1 when Nick Barnett has at least a half-sack, and they're 10-1 when Ryan Grant gets at least 22 rushes.


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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 and Facebook under Bill Huber.


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