Why the Green Bay Packers will win the Super Bowl: The offensive line

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Corey Linsley: Rookie phenom will only improve in second season

A week before the Green Bay Packers 2014 season kicked off at Seattle, very few considered the name Corey Linsley to be on the tips of their tongues.

Linsley wouldn’t let him down, nor would he let the team down.

The fifth round draft pick by Ted Thompson out of Ohio State was considered a solid addition to the team – a team whose offensive line was continuing to develop.

But nobody saw what was coming.

Second-year center J.C. Tretter had played with the first unit all spring and through training camp. He was the starting center. Linsley was a backup waiting in the wings.

Well those wings opened abruptly when Tretter went down with a knee injury one week before the start of the regular season. He would be out for half the season, which propelled Linsley to the forefront.

Considering that he would be the fourth center in two seasons from which Aaron Rodgers would receive snaps, Rodgers didn’t blink in throwing his towel into the rookie’s corner. He didn’t have any choice.

Green Bay Packers center Corey Linsley. Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports photograph

Linsley wouldn’t let him down, nor would he let the team down.

Not only did the rookie start that first game against the Seahawks, but he went on to start every regular season and playoff game for the Packers.

In fact, according to a piece posted by Rob Demovsky over at ESPN, Linsley not only played in every game, but he was the only player to start every play with his hand on the ball for the Packers’ offense.

Not Josh Sitton, not David Bakhtiari, not Jordy Nelson nor T.J. Lang.

It was the rookie Linsley who not only played every snap for the Packers, but he played at a Pro Bowl level that kept him in the lineup and gave the Packers hope that they had found the guy to build a line around for years to come.

He was rock solid for the Packers – an accomplishment that didn’t go completely unnoticed. Not only was he named to the Pro Football Focus All-NFC North Team, but he was also named to the website’s All-Rookie team.

Here is what they said about Linsley in being selected to the All-NFC North Team:

"The fourth member of the Packer offensive line to make the team is Corey Linsley. The fifth-round rookie was meant to struggle this season stepping in for an injured J.C. Tretter, however, Linsley performed way above his draft status and ended the year as the fifth graded center and the anchor on our All-Rookie team."

Here is what they said about his selection to the All-Rookie Team:

"He may not have walked into training camp expecting to start but he’ll walk out of this season as not only the teams starting center for the future, but one of the better young linemen in the league."

No doubt if he continues to stay healthy and produce, the Packers will have to find another place for J.C. Tretter.

The future for Linsley is bright and appears to be long.

The following is the list of snap counts of offensive lineman as put together by Demovsky:

Offensive line