Veteran OT Tauscher works out for Packers

MILWAUKEE -- It's too early to panic for the Green Bay Packers, even after a loss to Brett Favre and the division rival Minnesota Vikings.

But Green Bay (2-2) is considering a potential boost for its beleaguered offensive line: veteran tackle Mark Tauscher, who held the job for nearly nine seasons.

Age: 32

Height: 6-3 Weight: 316

College: Wisconsin

Experience: 9 seasons

Packers coach Mike McCarthy told reporters in Green Bay on Tuesday that Tauscher worked out for the team's medical staff and coaches and could be brought back to compete for the starting right tackle job he gave up after a major knee injury last December.

If Tauscher has fully rehabilitated his torn left anterior cruciate ligament and proves he can play, he could reclaim his old job from Allen Barbre and stabilize a line that has allowed a league-worst 20 sacks, including eight to the Vikings on Monday night.

"He's played a ton of football for us," McCarthy said. "He's played in this scheme from day one. Just to have his experience back is definitely I think an asset."

McCarthy also said return specialist Will Blackmon will miss the rest of the season with a knee injury. And the coach responded to postgame comments from veteran cornerback Charles Woodson, who publicly second-guessed the team's front office for releasing backup safety Anthony Smith at the end of training camp.

"I'll say this about Charles Woodson: He's as competitive a player that we have on our football team and probably in the National Football League," McCarthy said. "I'm sure that a lot of that was emotional, emotionally driven. These are things that are talked about, I don't ever shy away from an opinion that doesn't agree with mine."

After Monday night's loss, Woodson said the Packers might have been better off with Smith filling in for injured starting safety Atari Bigby.

"I don't know if we win the game if we still have Anthony still on the team," Woodson said. "But the decision to get rid of a guy that knows this defense in and out and made plays for us in the preseason, not being able to have a guy like that come in when Atari goes down, that's a big dent in this defense."

If the Packers aren't able to solve some serious flaws during the bye week, they'll have a hard time salvaging the season. The line can't protect Aaron Rodgers, and their rebuilt defense isn't faring much better than last year's notoriously unreliable unit.

Linebacker Brandon Chillar said the bye is an opportunity for improvement.

"I think it is time now to take a couple of days and regroup and come back and keep grinding," Chillar said. "We have a lot of football to play. By no means is this thing over."

The expected return of veteran left tackle Chad Clifton for the Oct. 18 home game against the Lions will help pass protection. A healthy Tauscher would make the Packers even stronger.

Still, Rodgers expressed frustration over some missed opportunities Monday night and said the Packers still haven't played up to their potential.

"We're still looking for that game where we really feel like we're clicking," Rodgers said after the game.

Bright spots are tougher to find on defense, an area where the Packers were expected to improve significantly. The Packers held Vikings running back Adrian Peterson to 55 yards on 25 carries but couldn't stop their former quarterback.

Instead of bringing consistent pass rush pressure, the Packers appeared content to drop into coverage. Favre took them apart, completing 24 of 31 passes for 271 yards -- including 9 of 11 on third down.

"The thing is, we had plays called to stop those long balls," Woodson said. "For whatever reason, we weren't in the positions to make the plays that we need to. (Favre has) been doing this a long time."

The Packers get another crack at Favre and the Vikings on Nov. 1 at Lambeau Field. Unless things change, the season could be lost by then.

"It is very disappointing," cornerback Al Harris said. "We can't have mental errors, and we have to be on top of our game. They played well. They did things well. As for Brett, he took exactly what we gave him and they came out with a win."

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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