GREEN BAY – While the result of Sunday’s regular-season finale against Detroit was what it was, Packers center Corey Linsley quietly put the finishing touches on his second consecutive season without missing a single offensive snap.
His consecutive snaps streak, now well over 2,000, dates back to the Week 15 matchup with the Chicago Bears on Dec. 18, 2016, when Linsley was forced off the field due to an equipment issue.
Linsley, who signed a contract extension with Green Bay last December, rerouted any credit for the achievement to the Packers’ strength and conditioning staff. Beyond that, the Pro Bowl alternate humbly chalked it up to good fortune.
Second-year offensive lineman Justin McCray, who started at right guard next to Linsley on Sunday, knows better.
“Savage,” said McCray when asked about Linsley’s streak. “A lot of that goes to his preparation and a lot of stuff you guys don’t see in the weight room, the extra stuff he does at practice, meetings and just knowing where to be on the field. I think Corey is the best center in the National Football League and it shows every Sunday. He’s out there every play and he’s dominating every play.”
Linsley, the only Packers’ offensive linemen to play in all 16 games this season, has now started 44 consecutive games (including playoffs) since returning off the physically unable to perform list against Indianapolis on Nov. 6, 2016.
Backup quarterback DeShone Kizer, who replaced an injured Aaron Rodgers in the second quarter, appreciated Linsley’s efforts in what marked only his second appearance of the 2018 season.
“It makes it really easy in terms of the protection checks you’ve gotta make, in terms of commanding the huddle when you have a guy who is as consistent as he is and his leadership by example,” Kizer said. “You definitely feel pretty comfortable as a quarterback in the pocket.”
The record books will show a season of ups and downs culminated Sunday in a 31-0 shutout loss to the Lions at Lambeau Field, but that’s not how Linsley will remember it.
To the fifth-year center, he’ll recall how emotional Rodgers was when the two-time MVP quarterback headed to the locker room before halftime to be evaluated for a concussion, gutted to be leaving his teammates behind regardless of the fact the contest had no playoff implications at this point.
Moments like that only further motivate Linsley to do what he does.
“Whenever you can go, you gotta go, especially when you have Aaron going out there,” Linsley said. “He makes eight times as much as anybody and he’s going out there risking his body. How can you sit there? I look to my teammates and see them working, and I ask myself, ‘How could I not be out there working?’”
Lambeau Field hosted the 2018 regular-season finale between the Green Bay Packers and the Detroit Lions.
Sunday was another challenging day for the Packers’ offensive line. Starting left tackle David Bakhtiari (hip) and left guard Lucas Patrick (abdomen) both left due to injuries, forcing McCray to slide to left tackle and Lane Taylor to play left guard after being limited during practice with a knee injury.
Undrafted rookie Alex Light, who had played in just two games this season, finished the game in Patrick’s place at right guard.
“For Justin to make that move, that’s one of the most difficult positions to play,” Linsley said. “For him to go out there on the fly and do it and play a pretty solid game from my perspective, that’s unbelievable. And then, Alex Light came in there and did everything we asked him to do. Fundamentally sound, I think he did a hell of a job. The game is what it is, but those guys deserve some credit.”
Linsley, who has started every game he’s ever played for the Packers at center, heads into the offseason hoping for a quick turnaround in 2019.
“You control what you can control,” Linsley said. “I’m going to work my ass off to try to get better in areas I have deficiencies. I’m going to do what I can and I know a lot of guys are. We’ll see what happens.”