GREEN BAY – Corey Linsley doesn’t have time to be negative. There aren’t enough hours in his day to get nervous or waste worrying about what went wrong.
The Green Bay Packers rookie center is focused on the positive – controlling only what he can control, and most importantly, as he puts it, “being mentally prepared.”
A week ago, the fifth-round draft pick out of Ohio State wasn’t preparing to be the opening-day starter at center. But in the wake of starter JC Tretter’s knee injury, it’s now Linsley’s job – at least for the next several weeks.
“It’s been a freaking whirlwind, man,” Linsley said after starting the Packers’ 34-14 win over the Kansas City Chiefs Thursday night at Lambeau Field. “It’s exciting. I’m starting to release a little bit and calm down.”
He looked like it.
Linsley played the entire first quarter at center, and he was the only starter who played on the offensive line as guards T.J. Lang and Josh Sitton and tackles David Bakhtiari and Bryan Bulaga were among the 16 healthy players who were scratched from the lineup. He was responsible for getting the offensive line set at the line of scrimmage, making calls, pointing out coverages and, of course, block. Although the coaches did slide help his direction from second-year guard Lane Taylor, Linlsey handled himself well.
“I watched [Linsley] and Lane [Taylor] early,” head coach Mike McCarthy said. “I thought they did some really good things. I thought they were composed, just managed the huddle.
“From what I did see I thought they played well.”
For the most part, Linsley felt the same, although he did confess to a mental error during a play with an outside zone-blocking scheme where he went the wrong way, which he called a “stupid and fixable” error.
“Overall it probably wasn’t my best quarter that I’ve had,” he said. “ But it was a solid quarter. I don’t feel like I screwed it up obviously but I’ve had better. It definitely anywhere near my worst.
“A solid quarter.”
Backup quarterbacks Matt Flynn and Scott Tolzien rotated by quarter, so Linsley his on-field time with Flynn, who started the game.
“He did a really nice job,” Flynn said of Linsley. “We didn’t give him a lot of exotic looks or anything but he did a nice job of getting out of the huddle, getting to the line of scrimmage and making a quick declaration to get us to the right spot.
“He has been impressive to me since the beginning of [the offseason], so I have been getting to know him first hand. He is doing a nice job.”
Said Linsley: “I really wanted to get out my ability to get up to the line, make the call and kind of run the show from that standpoint. I feel like I did that.”
Linsley hadn’t gotten a single first-team rep in practice before Tretter’s injury, an impaction fracture in his left knee that could sideline him for up to six games. In the meantime, it’s Linsley’s job. He’ll have to show he can handle both the physical and mental load the offense will put on him.
“I want to prove to these guys that I am on my mental game,” he added. “Prove to these guys that I know Seattle just as well as they do and prove it to my teammates and I am somebody they can count on. I think that will only be proven in the game but, regardless, I still want to come out of this week knowing Seattle as well as I can.
“I think I have made a lot of progress. I just got to keep making progress every day.”
Tony Cartagena covers the Packers for ESPNWisconsin.com. Follow him on Twitter at Twitter.com/TonyCartagena