29

July

Green Bay Packers Release 11-Year Veteran Mark Tauscher

Mark Tauscher

Mark Tauscher's release by the Green Bay Packers was an expected yet heart-breaking loss to fans and the team.

@jasonjwilde: Mark Tauscher has been released by the @packers.”

That tweet, instantly relayed by dozens of Jason Wilde’s followers today, was simple, striking, and emotional all in one. News of 11-year veteran Mark Tauscher’s release by the Green Bay Packers was to be expected; however, many had hoped the statement would be about his retirement instead.

Along with bookend left tackle Chad Clifton, Tauscher has been one of the foundations of the Packers’ offensive line for just over a decade. Selected in the seventh round of the 2000 NFL Draft, he became a full-time starter after Earl Dotson suffered a back injury early in the season. He has made 132 regular season starts since that time.

Mark Tauscher has earned a large spot in Wisconsin’s heart, and that will make it hard for fans to see him go. A native of the Badger State, he began his football career at Auburndale High School and was a two-time All-Conference honoree. He also actively participated in baseball and basketball, earning state honors in those sports as well.

After graduating from high school in 1995, Tauscher went on to the University of Wisconsin as a walk on, where he played his first few years as a backup to Chris McIntosh. He finally saw playing time during his fourth year in unbalanced line formations, and became the full-fledged starter at right tackle in his fifth and final season. Tauscher was considered an essential blocker in the line that gave success to Heisman Trophy winner Ron Dayne.

As a Packer, Mark Tauscher continued his high level of play and gained further adoration from Wisconsin fans. His work ethic and charm made him one of the great faces of the organization.

The past two seasons have, unfortunately, been an omen to his final days in Green Bay, as he only played a total of 13 games during that span of time. It seemed the injury bug had hit him, with a torn ACL at the end of 2008 and a shoulder injury early last season. He was replaced after the most recent injury by 2010 first-round draft pick Bryan Bulaga, who started for the remainder of their championship year.

12

April

Packers Prospect Profile — DE J. J. Watt, University of Wisconsin

1) Profile:

J. J. Watt

College: University of  Wisconsin

Position: DE

Height: 6′5″   Weight: 290 lbs.

Born: March 22, 1989 From: Pewaukee, WI

 2) High School / College Highlights: A Wisconsin First-team All-State selection at BOTH tight end and defensive end, Watt was also the Wisconsin State shot put champion as a HS senior. Watt was not as heavily recruited as you might think, mostly because of his lean frame. Watt accepted a scholarship offer from Central Michigan, starting every game at tight end for the Chippewas. After a year away from his home state, Watt returned as a walk-on to the University of Wisconsin.  Watt spent a red-shirt year hitting the weight room, switched to defense and was named defensive scout player of the year. Watt would start every game for the Badgers over the next two seasons, and was named All Big ten and second team All-American.

3) College Stats: 26 games, 106 tackles, seven sacks, two fumble recoveries, and an interception.

4) NFL Combine Results: 4.76 40-yd dash, 34 bench press reps, 37″ vertical jump, 10′ long jump, 6.88 3-cone, 4.21 20-yd shuttle.

5) Strengths/Weaknesses: Once thought of as more of an “intangibles” player that succeeded via max effort alone, Watt started to change that perception during the Badgers run to the Rose Bowl.  If any scouts were still thinking that way, Watt’s NFL Combine performance put an end to that. Watt finished in the top 5 among DL in every category, as well as the top 20 among all performers in five out of six categories (long jump was his only miss). Not bad for a defensive lineman, huh?

Watt may be the most versatile DE prospect coming out of the draft. He played from both a 3-point stance and standing up. He is stout against the run and tenacious in the pass rush. Watt has a variety of pass rush moves, but his techniques need refinement.

Watt uses his height, long arms and jumping ability to good advantage, knocking down passes and even blocking a few kicks. He uses his hands very well to keep blockers from getting into his body. Plays with good pad level, which helps him against the run,  but he needs to get  a lot stronger. If you can call a 290 pound human being lean, Watt is the definition.