GREEN BAY – There was no extensive scouting report delivered, no praise lavished upon him.
When the subject of Corey Linsley came up during Mike McCarthy’s press conference Sunday afternoon, the Green Bay Packers coach had no interest in breaking down how the rookie fifth-round pick had performed during the preseason finale a few days earlier or in discussing the team’s confidence level in its new center.
“Corey Linsley is our starting center,” McCarthy said. “So, obviously, we feel good about where is.”
Where is he? In the middle of an offensive line that will have to do a better job of protecting quarterback Aaron Rodgers than the last time they played in Seattle (eight sacks allowed in the infamour 2012 “Fail Mary” game); in the starting lineup because the guy who took all the first-team reps from the first OTA practice through the third preseason game, JC Tretter, is out at least six weeks with an impaction fracture in his knee; and under the microscope because he’s a rookie about to play in arguably the NFL’s toughest environment at CenturyLink Field.
And yet, McCarthy’s understated vote of confidence was fitting for Linsley, who not only doesn’t seem fazed by the challenge, but doesn’t have the kind of personality that would have wanted his coach raving about him or artificially pumping him up publicly.
“He doesn’t seem to get rattled. Mentally, he’s sharp. [And] he’s not a real fired up guy, he’s not a real hyper guy. He’s just kind of a calm, collected guy. Nothing seems to really get to him,” explained No. 2 quarterback Matt Flynn, who spent much of the preseason working with Linsley, including Thursday’s preseason finale when they started together. “That’s been impressive, the way he’s been able to just jump in.
“[The coaches told him], ‘All right, you’re the starter,’ so he just quietly walked up there and started taking reps. He’s been impressive. Obviously JC was a big loss; we all felt comfortable with him. But Corey has done a great job.”
Linsley is so cool about his new gig that he was even able to crack a well-delivered joke to the throng of reporters around his locker Sunday. As he faced a series of questions about the oft-discussed noise in Seattle, he named Nebraska and Wisconsin as the two places where the crowds were the most challenging during his college career at Ohio State. Then, like any good Buckeye would, he zinged the school’s biggest rival.
“Michigan is quiet, really quiet. Probably the quietest stadium in the Big Ten,” he said, to laughs all around.
It won’t be quiet on Thursday night, and it’ll be incumbent on Linsley to get to the line of scrimmage quickly, make the initial declarations based on what he sees from the Seattle defense.
“It’s all about the preparation and the week leading up to it. It’s week-by-week no matter what level of football you’re in,” Linsley said. “You can’t go back and say, ‘That’s what we did against Wisconsin last year.’ It isn’t going to work at Green Bay. So it’s all about the preparation.
“[The primary job is] just getting everybody on the same page as quickly as possible. If everybody knows where the starting point is and they don’t like the starting point, they can adjust it from there.”
It will be interesting to see how extensively the Packers use the no-huddle offense against Seattle. It’s clearly part of what they do and who they are offensively, but during the preseason finale against Kansas City with Linsley at center, they ran by unofficial count only three snaps of no-huddle with Linsley on the field. That may have been because none of the starters were playing, but the bottom line is that not only will Rodgers not have had a single in-game snap with Linsley before, but they will never have operated in the no-huddle together, either.
It’s clear the Packers will run their no-huddle against the Seahawks – “We’ve done no-huddle all preseason. I don’t think a team would prepare all preseason and not do it in a game,” wide receiver Jordy Nelson said Sunday – but its effectiveness will hinge in part on Linsley.
“Corey’s a smart guy. He’s played a lot of center in his time and he’s going to be expected to play well. So we expect him to be able to keep up,” Rodgers said. “I’ve said it a lot, but he’s got two incredible guards on both sides of him who are going to help him out with the calls and make sure that he’s ready. But Corey’s going to study hard, he’s very well-coached and he’s going to be ready to go.”
Listen to Jason Wilde every weekday from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. on “Green & Gold Today” on 540 ESPN, and follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/jasonjwilde.