Tauscher may not be back: Team hesitant to wait for OT’s rehab
Coach Mike McCarthy said during a break at the NFL owners meetings that he had been in regular contact with Tauscher, who had been rehabilitating a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee at the Packers’ facility until leaving for NFL Players Association meetings last week in Hawaii. He said Tauscher, an unrestricted free agent, had been working hard to get himself ready for the 2009 season.
But the recovery time for that kind of injury is eight to 10 months and that would put his return sometime into the regular season. At some point well before that, the Packers would have to move forward and prepare to replace him as their starting right tackle.
“It’s a medical condition. What (was) it, Week 12, Week 13?” McCarthy said of the injury, which occurred against the Houston Texans on Dec. 7. “It’s a late injury. You do the math, and you’re looking Oct. 1 (at his return). That’s what the math tells you.
”Mark would probably tell you differently because he feels great. He’s attacked his rehab and he’s in there every day. We’ll see what happens. Leadership-wise, you can’t say enough great things about him. It’s a medical condition that’s going to make for a tough decision.“
The Packers are short on tackles during offseason workouts because second-year pro Breno Giacomini is rehabilitating from surgery on his right ankle and veteran left tackle Chad Clifton is coming off minor knee surgery.
McCarthy gave updates on three players the Packers are monitoring closely as they recover from major injuries: linebacker Nick Barnett, defensive end Cullen Jenkins and defensive end/tackle Justin Harrell.
Barnett suffered a torn ACL in his right knee on Nov. 11 and is ahead of schedule in his rehabilitation. He is spending part of the off-season in Arizona with his family, but McCarthy said his work away from the facility had been good.
”We’re encouraged with him,“ McCarthy said. ”I saw him in the weight room Thursday and Friday. He’s going back, and they feel very good about where he’s at.“
Jenkins, who suffered a torn pectoral muscle on Sept. 28, is still battling the effects of surgery. He is also rehabilitating from arthroscopic surgery on his left ankle. The chest injury is the main issue.
”He looks good,“ McCarthy said. ”He can’t do everything right now. Some of it has lingered. Everyone is excited he got it fixed and they feel confident about it. If he’s ready earlier (than training camp), it will be a bonus.“
Harrell, who missed most of last season with a back injury suffered while lifting weights, isn’t cleared to do everything but has not been slowed by pain. His true test won’t come until he practices in pads.
"He’s got a smile on his face,“ McCarthy said. ”He’s pain-free so far. You could probably point to training camp for most of these guys.“
The two-year deal signed by defensive end Mike Montgomery to remain with the Packers was worth $2.85 million and included $800,000 in bonuses.
The Packers used a roster bonus this year instead of a signing bonus to help eat up part of their $29 million in salary cap room. Montgomery will earn a base salary of $725,000 next season along with a $475,000 roster bonus and a $75,000 workout bonus. In 2010, his base salary is $1.325 million, his roster bonus is $175,000 and his workout bonus is $75,000.
His salary cap number for 2009 is $1.275 million.
NFL vice president of officiating Mike Pereira said during a seminar for reporters covering the owners meetings his crew graded out slightly lower than last year, but his biggest concern was the number of ”train wrecks“ that occurred last season.
Pereira identified ”train wrecks“ as calls that brought negative publicity to the officials and obscured what he said was a fairly good season on the field for his group.
”Did I think we were bad last year?“ Pereira said. ”No. What we had were some train wrecks. And train wrecks hurt the perception of the overall program. Week 2 was a train wreck. The game in Pittsburgh was a train wreck. We took points off the board at the end of the game even though it didn’t affect the final outcome.
“But in our business, you have to avoid the train wrecks and we didn’t. And that’s what we have to shoot for this year.”
The Week 2 “train wreck” Pereira alluded to was a blown call in the Denver-San Diego game in which referee Ed Hochuli incorrectly ruled a fumble on an incomplete pass. The play allowed the Broncos to score the winning points. The Steelers game featured an apparent fumble return for a touchdown by safety Troy Polamalu that referee Scott Green incorrectly overruled through instant replay.
Rules changes: The owners approved four rules changes pertaining to player safety.
-- No blindside blocks in which there is contact to the player’s head.
-- No more kickoff wedges of more than two players.
-- No hits to the head against defenseless players.
-- No bunch formations on kickoffs.