With the injury to starting center J.C. Tretter in Friday night’s third preseason game against the Oakland Raiders, Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offensive line will be welcoming the fifth starting center to the starting lineup in as many years – rookie Corey Linsley.
“I just told him not to freak out, not to stress out about anything,” Packers starting left guard Josh Sitton told packers.com today. “It’s football. He’s got T.J. [Lang] and I next to him, so [I told him] not to think too much.”
The main issue for Linsley and the Packers is that they’ve only got one preseason game left on the schedule when Kansas City comes to town Thursday night and it’s a game when starters generally tend to sit.
One wonders whether Aaron Rodgers and company may just suit up to try to get the groove in place for a series or two against Kansas City. If not, the Packers will head into Seattle to face the Seahawks and the 12th Man Thursday, Sept. 4, with very little time to prepare as a unit. It wouldn’t be so concerning but the Packers will be facing the world champion on their turf with very little time to establish continuity as a unit.
But if there’s anyone with the needed confidence level, it Linsley.
“There’s no room for nonsense anymore and ridiculous mistakes,” Linsley said. “[Missed assignments] are out of the question anymore. The urgency level is hyped and I’m prepared for it.”
Linsley was drafted for need this past spring, especially after the team lost Evan Dietrich-Smith to free agency before the draft. That move left the Packers with only Tretter as their center. Now that need has been raised to the utmost urgency as Linsley understands.
But it’s certainly not the first time the Packers have dealt with a thin depth chart at the center position and it most likely won’t be the first time the Packers pull it together.
After the Packers lost longtime center Scott Wells to free agency, they brought in Jeff Saturday to try to solidify the position. When he ran out of gas three-quarters of the way through the 2012 season, the Packers turned to Evan Dietrich Smith, who played through last year.
The plan was then to turn to Tretter in 2014, who is basically a rookie himself because he was injured on the first play of organized team activities in the spring of 2013 and sat out all of last season.
Now he goes down and the Packers turn to true rookie Linsley in hopes that he can pick up the slack much like last year’s rookie David Bakhtiari did when he stepped in for Bryan Bulaga, who blew out his knee in training camp.
The big difference is that Bakhtiari had all four preseason games to ready himself for the start of the season. Linsley has one … if you want to call it that.
However, when the center has veterans Josh Sitton and T.J. Lang on either side of the ball, as well as Aaron Rodgers taking the snap, it should ease the stress level for Linsley and make his life a bit easier.
But he will have to step up his game and preparation … and do it in a hurry, because we all know that defensive front up in Seattle must be licking their chops.