Packers OT Clifton looks good to go vs. Ravens; LB Thompson out

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Packers coach Mike McCarthy didn't need to see much to become optimistic that
Chad Clifton can play Monday night against the Baltimore Ravens.

The veteran offense tackle has had little work since he injured a hamstring during a Nov. 26 victory over the Detroit Lions, but McCarthy liked what he saw in practice Saturday.

"I feel better about him today than I did two days ago," McCarthy said of Clifton, who's listed as probable for the game despite being limited in practice throughout the week. "I feel very good the way he came out of the week. "Today, the way he responded to his work yesterday was definitely a positive. We'll see how the next 50 hours go, but he looks like he has a chance to be ready to go."

Rookie T.J. Lang is Clifton's backup and has gained starting experience at both tackle spots in recent weeks, but he is questionable for the game because of a concussion that he sustained in practice Thursday. He didn't practice the last two days.

If neither Clifton nor Lang is available against the Ravens, the Packers could turn to Allen Barbre, who lost the starting job at right tackle at midseason after the team re-signed veteran Mark Tauscher. Barbre took most of the first-string repetitions at left tackle the last couple days.

"If my name's called (Monday), I'm definitely going to be ready and go out there and fill in," Barbre said.

Barbre acknowledged that he's hungry to contribute following his demotion after seven games because of inconsistent play and then being inactive the last two games because of an ankle injury.

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Barbre has played at left guard and right tackle in his first three seasons with the Packers. He also has experience at left tackle, making all but one of his 36 starts there for Missouri Southern State.

The uncertainty at left tackle means the Packers will count on Tauscher to play a full game Monday for the first time in more than a year.

"I think Mark is ready for that," McCarthy said. "That's the outlook going into Monday night's game. We're going to head down that path."

Tauscher suffered a season-ending knee injury late last year, underwent surgery in January and didn't return to football until the Packers re-signed him one month into the season. He started three of the past four games, but he was replaced by Lang for a few series in each to rest the knee.

Also on Saturday, Packers linebacker Jeremy Thompson was released from a Green Bay hospital. He was taken by ambulance from the Packers' practice facility after spraining his neck toward the end of practice Friday.

"He's doing very well," McCarthy said. "He went through all of the testing yesterday (and) will have pretty much a full recovery. It was a scary situation for everybody. We're just glad that he's going to be OK."

Thompson didn't lose consciousness or suffer any paralysis after he was injured while trying to make a tackle. He won't play Monday, and his prognosis for playing again by the end of the season hasn't been determined.

McCarthy, however, indicated that Thompson's injury isn't career-threatening, although the linebacker has been prone to neck stingers during his first two NFL seasons.

"This is a positive day," McCarthy said. "You never want to see anybody in that position, and to see one of your players taken off the field yesterday was definitely a very nervous time for all of us."

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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