GREEN BAY — There wasn’t any hooting and hollering when JC Tretter was informed that he’d been named the Packers’ starting center on Monday morning.
In fact, the fourth-year offensive lineman didn’t even pick up his phone to text his family or friends to announce the promotion.
Instead of seeking a celebratory pat on the back, Tretter did what he’s always done. He put his pads on and went out to practice with the rest of his teammates.
“I think I’d be lying if I wasn’t going to say I’m excited now, but again it’s going out there and now you have to kind of run with it,” Tretter said.
“You have to go out there and prove what you can do, and continue to play well and continue to go out there and show you can do it.”
Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy proclaimed Tretter the team’s starting center after the veteran took nearly every first-team snap there since the start of the offseason program.
Corey Linsley, who’s held the job for the past two seasons, remains on the physically unable to perform list due to the hamstring injury that’s sidelined him since the spring.
Tretter, a former fourth-round pick in 2013, was slated to be the Packers’ starting center in 2014, but he sustained a knee injury that landed him on temporary injured reserve.
Linsley, a fifth-round rookie at a time, stepped in and performed well enough in Tretter’s stead to start 29 of the Packers’ 32 regular-season games there the past two seasons.
Asked about now reclaiming the starting job under similar circumstances, Tretter quickly pumped on the brakes on the redemptive narrative.
For Tretter, this wasn’t an opportunity to unseat Linsley. It was a chance to prove himself after ankle and knee injuries sabotaged his first two NFL seasons.
“I wasn’t wondering whether it was a competition or not a competition. This was all about taking advantage of the reps you get in camp,” Tretter said. “You come in every year looking to compete and play and make the most of every opportunity you have. There wasn’t anything thinking, ‘If I do enough here, something can happen.’
“It was just going out there and trying to show what you can do and let everything fall where it may.”
While Tretter has only started three of the 24 regular-season games he’s played in, he isn’t a stranger to Aaron Rodgers and the No. 1 offense.
Known for his intelligence and athleticism, Tretter spent the entire offseason program in 2014 working next to guards Josh Sitton and T.J. Lang, and he filled in admirably at center in the three games Linsley missed due to an ankle injury last season.
Most importantly, Tretter made a critical spot start at left tackle in place of an injured David Bakhtiari during the NFC Wild Card playoff against Washington.
McCarthy and offensive line coach James Campen have raved about Tretter’s upside since they first converted him from left tackle in 2013. Now, his development is paying dividends.
Even more than with his versatility, Tretter impressed the coaches with how he handled the team choosing to stick with Linsley at center following Tretter’s knee injury in 2014.
“First and foremost, JC is a true pro,” Campen said. “He works extremely hard. He studies. He pays attention. I don’t think he’s one who dwells on negative experiences that happened to him. He’s very headstrong.
“I just think JC exemplifies the true meaning of a professional football player. That’s why he’s successful.”
Tretter has worked at every position in his first three seasons but admits it’s been nice to “get in a groove” and “master” one position over the last few months.
Although he possesses a different body type than Linsley, Tretter believes there are parallels between the two in their athleticism and quickness to the second level of the defense.
Tretter says the injuries didn’t change his perspective. He’s had the same disposition about football dating back to high school, but it is a reminder of how quickly plans can change.
That’s why you won’t hear him gloat about his promotion. He knows better than anyone that today doesn’t guarantee tomorrow.
“This is just the first step. It’s about what goes on from here,” Tretter said. “It’s about continuing to go about doing your job and do it well. The end goal wasn’t this. The end goal was to continue to play at a high level. I don’t think the goal has been reached.
“As a team, we still have so much more to accomplish. I’m excited to be a part of what I think this team can do.”
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