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JC Tretter knee injury heightens urgency at center

Posted Aug 24, 2014

Rookie Corey Linsley says he's prepared for challenge ahead

GREEN BAY—Corey Linsley didn’t sugarcoat anything.

“The urgency level is just through the roof,” the rookie fifth-round draft pick said in the wake of starting center JC Tretter’s knee injury, with the opener in Seattle just 11 days away.

“I’ve been working hard, but it’s a different animal out there with the ones. I have to fill in at the highest level.”

Tretter will be sidelined “multiple weeks,” according to Head Coach Mike McCarthy, with more testing and second opinions ongoing. Tretter had taken every snap with the first-string offense since the start of OTAs in the spring, winning the so-called competition for the starting job before it even began.

Linsley, the Ohio State alum, got his first snaps with the No. 1 offense during Sunday’s closed practice. He talked of earning the trust of quarterback Aaron Rodgers and of getting all the pre-snap reads, calls and adjustments to become second nature.

There’s a lot to do and not a lot of time.

“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.”

The Packers dealt with this type of situation on the offensive line last summer, when tackle Bryan Bulaga was lost to a knee injury during the “Family Night” scrimmage and rookie fourth-round pick David Bakhtiari was suddenly thrust into the spotlight.

The difference here is Bakhtiari had all four preseason games with the first unit to get ready for the opener. Linsley has just one, and it’s the one the starters will play the least, if at all.

“It’s not anything new to us,” guard Josh Sitton said. “I told JC this morning, ‘Right when I got real comfortable with you, … and now you’re gone.’ It (stinks). It’s unfortunate, but we’re used to working with a bunch of guys, so just something you have to roll with.”

Strangely, just like Bulaga a year ago, Tretter didn’t know he hurt his knee initially. He was examined by the medical staff on the sideline in the first quarter of Friday’s game against Oakland but went right back into the game, playing 49 snaps in all.

McCarthy said the knee began bothering him at halftime, after he was done playing for the night, and by the end of the evening he was on crutches.

So, for the foreseeable future, in steps Linsley, who’s absorbing all the advice he can from veteran guards Sitton and T.J. Lang.

“I just told him not to freak out, not to stress out about anything,” Sitton said. “It’s football. He’s got T.J. and I next to him, so (I told him) not to think too much.

“Physically he’s gifted. He’s a strong kid and he can push people around. He has a knack for the game. You saw that the first day we put the pads on. Physically, he’s definitely ready for it. We just have to get him 100 percent there mentally.”

Added Lang: “We’re not going to put too much pressure on him. When we get to the line, Josh and I make a lot of calls as it is anyway. So anytime he’s going to be stuck, if he makes a wrong call, we can correct him a split-second later.

“It’s not going to be a problem.”

Those last words echoed the message of McCarthy, who said the game plans and the offensive approach won’t change with a new center.

“This is not an issue for our football team,” McCarthy said. “This is the way the NFL is. Injuries are part of our game. It’s unfortunate, but it will not stop us.”

Additional coverage - Aug. 24

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