GREEN BAY—A new center will not slow down the Packers’ up-tempo, no-huddle offense.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers said as much on Monday, his second day taking snaps from rookie Corey Linsley, who has taken over for the injured JC Tretter.
Rodgers’ confidence in maintaining the offensive pace stems in part from the basis for the smooth transition initially with Tretter – that Linsley will be playing between two veteran guards in Josh Sitton and T.J. Lang, and snapping to a quarterback in his 10th NFL season.
“He’s going to be expected to play at a fast tempo and he’s got sideboards on both sides who know exactly what they’re doing and what everyone is doing up front,” Rodgers said. “Josh and T.J. are going to be very important to Corey, playing as fast as possible, but we have a lot of trust in Corey. He’s played center his entire career.”
Linsley also ran the no-huddle at Ohio State, so he considers keeping pace the least of his and Rodgers’ worries. Rodgers also doesn’t feel it’s necessary to get preseason game snaps with Linsley on Thursday against Kansas City, an indication Rodgers and most of the offensive starters will sit out the preseason finale, as has become somewhat customary.
Linsley got a lot of work on Monday and likely will play, but Head Coach Mike McCarthy dismissed the notion of playing the entire starting unit against the Chiefs just for Linsley’s benefit.
“The mental part of it, we’ll be able to sharpen his blade there,” McCarthy said. “But to go out there and totally overdo reps because you’ve got one player that’s going to start, I’m not going to do that. Because if I have to do that, he’s not the right guy. Corey will be ready to play.”
Monday’s practice was the last full-pads workout of training camp. It featured Rodgers throwing an array of touchdown passes running the scout team with his fellow offensive starters.
Other highlights included rookie fourth-round draft pick and outside linebacker Carl Bradford dabbling some at inside linebacker with the reserve units. Also, defensive lineman Letroy Guion practiced for the first time following a pre-camp hamstring injury.
The timing of Guion’s return couldn’t have been better, given B.J. Raji’s bicep injury and pending surgery. McCarthy said Guion looked “explosive” on his first day, taking limited but “quality” reps. Guion said he wasn’t sure if he’d be cleared to play in Thursday’s game, but either way, he feels he can prepare himself quickly for the regular season.
“He’s ready to go,” fellow defensive lineman Mike Daniels said. “He’s ready to go, and I’m excited for him.”
Thursday’s game will be mostly about final roster evaluations, with the cutdown to 53 players due on Saturday. Decisions at wide receiver and tight end will attract plenty of attention, and Rodgers spoke of several young players at those positions needing to “catch up” quickly if they’re to be counted on in September.
“We’re into the last preseason game, we’re less than two weeks from the opener, and things pick up after this final game, after the cutdown, and guys will feel it,” Rodgers said. “It’s a call to those guys to start stepping up their play, because it’s going to start mattering here really quick.”