GREEN BAY – The depth of the Packers’ offensive line came through once again.
JC Tretter’s performance filling in at center for Corey Linsley for the final three quarters of the 30-13 victory over Minnesota was exactly what any team hopes when it has to turn to the bench – smooth, solid and without any glaring errors.
“We didn’t change anything,” Head Coach Mike McCarthy said on Monday. “We didn’t make any adjustments. We just went out and played with our whole game plan. That’s a real credit to JC.”
The Packers got similar results earlier this year when Don Barclay had to fill in multiple games for Bryan Bulaga at right tackle. Barclay also stepped in for left tackle David Bakhtiari in the middle of the Detroit game.
Tretter said he took pride in the fact that the offense didn’t need to change for him. He didn’t even take any practice snaps with quarterback Aaron Rodgers and simply took over the line calls and declarations when Linsley hurt his ankle.
“It’s not easy to be that sixth man and come off the bench,” veteran guard Josh Sitton said. “It’s a tough thing to do. I’ve done it in the past, my rookie year. Coming in cold, especially in a cold game, it’s not easy. He did a great job.”
Whether or not Tretter will get his first start on Thursday night against Chicago remains to be seen. McCarthy said he had “hope” for Linsley to be recovered in time to play, but his status is very much up in the air on a short week.
No matter who’s at center, the Packers would like to continue running the football the way they did against the Vikings.
Eddie Lacy found his old form, gaining 100 yards on 22 carries, both season highs. McCarthy made no announcement regarding the starting job, which has belonged to James Starks the past two games, instead referring to the “1-2 punch” with the offense needing both backs the rest of the way.
Regardless, Lacy’s production, moves and occasional burst were welcome sights, though he is listed on the injury report again this week (ankle).
“That’s what running backs need, 22 carries,” McCarthy said. “I thought he was decisive and thought he ran behind his pads.”
His teammates also noticed him finishing plays with the intensity of prior years.
“I haven’t seen that excitement,” Sitton said. “He was fired up a few of those plays and hadn’t seen that in a while. Hopefully that will springboard him the rest of the year.”
If the Packers’ offensive balance from Sunday’s game – 34 pass attempts, 31 rushes (not including one scramble and two kneel-downs) – is also a sign of things to come, all the better.
“You’d like to hope so,” Sitton said. “I think we proved that we could win a game that way. We don’t necessarily have to rely on Aaron to throw 60 passes a game and him make 20 amazing plays to win a game. We showed that we can go win a game in another fashion.”
In studying the film, McCarthy sees a Bears team that’s more efficient “in all three phases” compared to Week 1, when the Packers won at Chicago. The Bears (4-6) were gunning for a third straight win on Sunday but got stopped on a late two-point try in a 17-15 loss to the Broncos.
The Brett Favre ceremony and potential appearance by Bart Starr will make for a special atmosphere at Lambeau Field on Thanksgiving night, but McCarthy has his players focused on the quick turnaround and the opponent coming to visit.
“The video is better than the statistics,” McCarthy said of the Bears. “This is a much-improved football team.”