Cory’s Corner: The Packers’ solution at center is Linsley

Linsley

The Packers’ offense has been humming this preseason. Aaron Rodgers looks sharp and confident. Eddie Lacy appears rested and ready. Jordy Nelson hasn’t lost a step.

But what about the offensive line? Many became stunned to silence when news spread that JC Tretter would miss several weeks with a knee injury. Tretter was set to become the fourth different starting center to snap Rodgers the ball to begin the season.

And now the Packers have had to change course late in the preseason and will insert rookie Corey Linsley.

Tretter was a surprise to get handed the starting assignment in the first place. He never played the position in college and never saw the field last year as a rookie.

Hopefully offensive line coach James Campen gets a decent raise after this year. He not only whipped Tretter into being the leader of the offensive line but now has scouts raving about Linsley’s balance, tenacity and the strength of an ox.

Yet, this still raises a question. Does Rodgers, one of the best quarterbacks in the game, deserve more stability at the center position? Clearly Jeff Saturday was a mistake and not bringing back Scott Wells has turned out to be the right decision.

With the breakneck pace the Packers plan to run, a rookie center will be put to the test. And it will begin right away in the season opener at a raucous CenturyLink Field.

With only one preseason game left, Linsley will not get any more game action with Rodgers. That means more pumped in sound at practice, more of not jumping when Rodgers gives out his array of snap signals and more of reading intricate defenses that are trying to fool a rookie center.

The Packers have a couple of capable centers on the roster right now. Holding on to at least one of them for another six or seven years will be key to keeping this offense together.

The center isn’t as sexy as the left tackle that gets all the money, but he must be the quarterback of the offensive line and be able to detect and direct problems before they arise.

Linsley may be the next great Packers’ center. But expecting that out of a rookie fifth rounder from Ohio State is asking a lot. He has admitted that he needs to brush up on the mental side of the game and when it comes to an intricate offense like the Packers, being prepared is important.

Campen shouldn’t mold Linsley just as a Tretter fill-in. He needs to throw the book at him in an effort that he absorbs all the necessary information to be the next Packers long-term center.

——————

Cory Jennerjohn is from Wisconsin and has been in sports media for over 10 years. To contact Cory e-mail him at jeobs -at- yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter: Cory Jennerjohn

——————

  • Since ’61

    Yes, Rodgers does deserve more stability at Center, but we are where we are. Here’s the way that I see this situation. Whether Tretter was hurt or not we would still be going into Seattle with a rookie center who never played a down in a live NFL game against the SB champs in their home stadium with their over the top crowd noise. The only difference is that Tretter will have spent more time working with the #1s and with Aaron Rodgers. But suppose Tretter was hurt on the opening drive during the Seattle game. Then where would we be? I’m not trying to make a positive out of Tretter’s injury but the Packers do have time to get Linsley ready. Linsley make not have a lot of experience, but this team and the coaching staff have at least as much if not more experience than any team in the league at dealing with injuries. I’m confident that Linsley will be ready. That goes for the defensive side in terms of replacing Raji as well, who was a non-factor last season any way. Despite an on going plague of injuries that has even included losing AR for 8 games last season, this team has still made the playoffs for the last 5 consecutive seasons including an SB win and 3 division titles. The Packers have the depth and coaching experience to mitigate the impact of these injuries and I am confident they will. Also remember, great careers have resulted from players stepping in when injuries occur. Don Majkowski’s injury opened the door for Brett Favre to have one of the greatest QB careers in NFL history and save the GB franchise in the process. Linsley doesn’t need to save the franchise but maybe we’re about to see the next Jim Ringo take the field for the Packers. Hopefully we come out of the KC preseason game healthy. Go Pack Go! Thanks, Since ’61

  • http://www.lyrictrumpet.com Bearmeat

    Linsley will be just fine. Tretter’s pass pro has been slightly better, but Linsley is a better drive blocker. If he can keep the mental mistakes away, the offense won’t miss a beat.

    Since 61 is right – Tretter has no game experience either. The difference is that Tretter has spent the offseason knowing and preparing to be the guy.

  • Archie

    EDS wasn’t the long-term answer at C. Certainly Jeff Saturday wasn’t either. Even Scot Wells would have aged out well before AROD. AROD is 30 now. TT found two very talented young Cs to groom for the next 5 to 10 years i.e., the rest of AROD’s career. So I see nothing wrong here other than TT took a season or two longer to act than I would have liked. The upside is that he appears to have hit on both draft picks. The offense will not be what stops this team this year. Injuries might be but the biggest worry for Packer fans remains the defense. There are signs that it MIGHT be better this year but it still remains to be seen. Peppers has looked better in the last couple of games than he did last year. Will it continue when everyone is playing for real? I’m not too worried about losing Raji either. He was ineffective last year. And we have lots of young guys to plug in. And Guion and Peppers could turn out to be two incredible FA signings. I’ll always be down on AJ Hawk but that’s just the way it is. We will see Lattimore this week. And we will see more of Perry, Neal, Elliott, Mulumba, Palmer and Bradford. Barrington has impressed. Secondary has impressed. Hopefully Shields can tighten his game a bit and Hayward can be 100%. Hyde, Dix and Richardson make S way better than last year. House has had another incredible August.

    • Jeff

      That about sums it up :) I am hoping now that they are taking a look at Bradford at ILB he will use his speed and nose for always being around the ball like he did in college to fill that hole in the middle that Hawk seems to keep open year after year. I am not a Hawk hater but you have to call a apple an apple and he is the weak link in the middle. I know he is reliable and led in tackles last year but he is slow and already showing he misses more tackles than he makes. It’s time to move on as they say this is a young mans game so lets start training a couple of these young guys to replace him!

      • John Willard

        Jeff, you are right on the money. Hawk is a pedestrian MLB…Let’s see what the young bucks can do this year to eventually replace him.

    • http://www.lyrictrumpet.com Bearmeat

      Well put Archie. When did you become a rational optimist? ;)

      • Archie

        I stayed away from TT blows another draft on defense e.g., Thornton, Bradford and Goodson. ;) Of course, jury is still out on Thornton.

  • aaronqb

    I think the Packer brain trust sees Tretter as the long-term solution at center. He has performed very well during preseason and has earned Rodgers’ trust. He’s obviously bright, having gone to an Ivy League school.

    I’m not knocking Linsley. From what I’ve seen so far, he looks solid as a backup and think he will perform well while Tretter is out. But, Tretter is bigger and from what I’ve read was clearly better than Linsley during training camp.

    Having two capable centers on the roster is a great problem to have.

    • Since ’61

      Aaronqb, I agree with you that Tretter has been better at Center so far but think of this scenario. Linsley plays well enough to remain the starting center and Tretter returns healthy and can now not only back up center but also the Tackle positions, which he played in college, and maybe backup at Guard. This would go a long way towards making up for the loss of Barclay. Then we would have great depth at Center and all along the OL. That would be an even better problem to have. Go Pack Go! Thanks, Since ’61

      • aaronqb

        I think GB will start their best 5 OL. If Tretter is one the best 5, he will start. If Linsley is one of the best 5, he will start. I don’t think they would keep one of their best 5 on the bench simply because he can backup more positions.

        • Since ’61

          Totally agree, and that is what GB will do. I was just pointing out the possibility that Linsley may prove to be a great Center, which creates the scenario I mentioned. Thanks, Since ’61

  • Big T

    Love Tretter however it appears he is injury prone. Imagine that.

  • Guest

    Garth Gerhart is supposedly a center, but I have not heard his name mentioned. Curious