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Status quo: Packers starting tackles, backs to remain the same

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Lori Nickel
September 29, 2010
— While Packer Nation was still raw after a stunning 20-17 loss to the Chicago Bears on Monday night at Soldier Field, Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy tried his best to keep it in perspective.

He strongly backed aging tackles Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher and insisted his running game is still productive as long as it evaluated within his specific parameters.


In a brief day-after press conference Tuesday in Green Bay, on a day that the Packers otherwise had off, McCarthy said that considering what his running backs were up against Chicago’s stout front seven and run-stuffing defense, he was OK with the Packers running game.


Brandon Jackson and John Kuhn combined for 13 carries and 43 yards total. The only run production came from scrambling-for-his-life quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who ran twice for 20 yards.


“You have to look at what’s the definition of the run game. I looked at this particular game, and I felt that our running backs were productive,” said McCarthy. “I thought Brandon and John played well with the opportunities that they were given with the ball in their hands and what was put in front of them.


“I thought the running back production was a positive in the game.”


The numbers don’t support a strong showing for the running game, but McCarthy seemed to hint to he was considering Julius Peppers, Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher as part of the evaluation.


He declared, once again, that Jackson and Kuhn are good enough to take the Packers to a winning season.


“I like our running backs. We are going to use them accordingly to get the ball down the field. I’m not trying to sell something that is not true,” said McCarthy. “Just because you don’t line up and run it 25 times from the ‘I’ doesn’t mean you are not committed to being productive with your running backs. If you look at the dynamics of our offensive personnel, we have the ability to play in a box offense. We have the ability to play in a spread offense. That is to our credit, and we’re going to utilize that the best we can.”


Either way, everyone could see his offensive line struggle. A holding call here or there may be debated, but when the offensive line is hit the way the Packers were with flags Monday, it was clear most of the men left and right of Scott Wells were struggling to block the defensive linemen.


“We knew we were going to put some stress on the tackles, and we tried to help them some,” said McCarthy. “The penalties, which directly affected our point production, is what cost us. People want to talk about the penalties (on the tackles), but two of the three holds were on interior linemen. I thought the tackles’ performance from a grade standpoint, they just did OK. We knew they were going to be stressed out, down in Soldier Field, loud environment against a prime player in Peppers.”


It doesn’t look as though the performance will lead to major changes this week.


The running backs will have to do the best they can with whatever carries they get instead of expecting a 20-carry game to find their rhythm.


“The attempts is not always the most important factor as far as running the football,” said McCarthy. He said Kuhn and Jackson will continue to split time.


“I don’t think it would be very smart to getting into running either one of them 25, 30 times. We have a lot of football in front of us,” said McCarthy. “They have a lot of experience. They can play on all three downs. I think our staff has done a very good job from a game-planning standpoint of using those two on the different packages, and we’ll continue to go with that format as we move forward.”


McCarthy was not going to threaten to bench Green Bay’s tackles who have started for the Packers for more than a decade, either. He sounded as if he was willing to see how they hold up week to week, game by game. He said Clifton would remain the starting left tackle as long as his body holds up.


“Chad Clifton is doing the best he can with his health situation,” said McCarthy. “I think we have a very good plan in place. We’re doing the best we can from a coaching standpoint, a medical staff standpoint, of making sure that he gets the work that he needs.


“As for Mark, I believe in Mark Tauscher. He’s played a lot of football. Now, there are some things fundamentally that he did not do to his standard, and I believe he’ll get that corrected. Because Mark’s a pro’s pro. I don’t think it’s a lack of anything. It’s not a ‘he doesn’t have it anymore.’ We have more football in front of us. There’s definitely some things we can improve on there.”



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