Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy spoke after Sunday’s practice session and announced that center J.C. Tretter suffered a significant knee injury and will be out multiple weeks. The specific injury was not revealed, nor was the exact timetable for Tretter’s return.
This puts the Packers in the type of bind that many feared could be the case when swing offensive lineman Don Barclay was lost to an ACL injury a few weeks back. Green Bay will now have to rely on rookie fifth-rounder Corey Linsley to hold down the center position while Tretter recovers.
Linsley becomes the fifth center in the last four seasons for the Packers. While he has been serviceable during the preseason, Linsley has no NFL experience and will get his first start in week one on the road against the Seattle Seahawks. With little time to practice with the first team and limited knowledge of the offense, Linsley will get a very stiff test at CenturyLink Field in Seattle.
While Tretter also has yet to play in or start an NFL game, he has been practicing and starting with the first unit throughout the offseason and during the preseason. He appeared to be gaining a good grasp on the offense and was performing well in one-on-one situations both in-game and at practice. It can’t be discounted that Tretter’s injury creates a big hole on the offensive line.
The domino effect of Tretter’s injury is the likely changes the team will need to make to the offense. Pass protection with Linsley at center is a concern and this will likely call for the offense to move quarterback Aaron Rodgers around to avoid getting smothered in the pocket. Rodgers runs and throws on the move as well as any other quarterback in the NFL, but if he’s doing it more often than not, it won’t be as effective.
Tretter’s run blocking seemed to improve over the three preseason games. How will the run game fare with Linsley at center? We won’t likely get a preview during this week’s preseason game against the Kansas City Chiefs. I don’t expect running back Eddie Lacy to play and if he does, it would likely be for one series, at most. Linsley will start at center and will likely see extensive time this week. All have to hope that he can make it out of this game without injury and with some valuable reps to carry him into the regular season.
The Packers just can’t seem to escape the injury problems that plague them year after year. Already lost for this upcoming season have been running back Johnathan Franklin, wide receiver Jared Abbrederis, Barclay, and defensive lineman B.J. Raji. Tretter’s injury has not yet been described as potentially season-ending.
The key to surviving a season in the NFL is staying relatively healthy and having quality depth all around the roster. At this point, the Packers are getting uncomfortably thin in the middle of both the offense and defense. With Barclay out and Tretter hurting, Linsley now goes from being a nice project that the Packers can bring along slowly to a guy who will touch the ball on every offensive down.
The loss of Raji will likely require second-year man Josh Boyd and undrafted rookie Mike Pennel to step up and play significant snaps this season.
If history is any indication, the Packers woes are probably not finished and they haven’t played a single regular season game yet. I don’t believe in luck but I do believe in diligent and realistic contingencies. It’s impossible to have the perfect backup at every position but by now, the Packers should be expecting this type of thing. If they do and have planned well, we should be praising general manager Ted Thompson and his personnel team come season’s end.——————
Jason Perone is an independent sports blogger writing about the Packers on AllGreenBayPackers.comFollow Jason Perone: