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