GREEN BAY – He looks so proper when the weather gets cold, a sophisticated center. Before the snap, in the huddle, Corey Linsley will stick his right hand underneath inside his jersey.
“I do the Napoleon,” Linsley said. “I put it in my shirt and try to keep it warm.”
It’s all the Green Bay Packers center can do to compensate for the worst cold-weather job on the offensive line. When the weather dips below zero – as is expected when the Packers travel to the Chicago Bears on Sunday – the Packers offensive line unit will consist of 10 hands and nine gloves.
The lone hand uncovered: Linsley’s snapping hand.
Linsley can’t afford to have anything less than a sure grip when he snaps the football to quarterback Aaron Rodgers. So between plays, he does anything possible to keep his hand from being numb with cold.
“I’ve never gotten frostbite,” Linsley said. “So it’s working.”
In the cold, Linsley’s hand gets awfully dry without a glove. He said one trick to ensuring no botched snaps is keeping his hand moist.
“If your hands are real dry,” Linsley said, “then the ball is kind of slick.”
Nothing can wreck a drive quicker than a bad snap. It’s something the Packers are clearly concerned about Sunday. Offensive line coach James Campen refused to answer a question about what Linsley must do to ensure quality snaps.
“He’s got to put that ball right where it needs to be,” Campen finally said. “He’ll be just fine. I’m not going to talk about the snaps. Can’t do the snaps. I’m a former center, as you know, and I’m not jinxing the snaps.”
Adjustments are also necessary for quarterbacks in cold weather. Quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt said Rodgers will need to stay under center for an extra beat before starting his dropback.
“Those centers,” Van Pelt said, “their butts get frozen too. So it can come up in a little different spot than it normally would on a nice 70-degree day. You’ve just got to make sure you hang in a little bit longer.”
Linsley is used to playing in the cold. He grew up in Youngstown, Ohio, where lake-effect snow and winds coming off Lake Eerie could produce artic weather.
It didn’t get as cold in northeast Ohio as it can be in Green Bay, Linsley said. But it was awfully close. No matter the wind chill, Linsley said he adopted one rule.
He doesn’t wear sleeves under his shoulder pads. Ever.
“I can’t,” Linsley said. “I can’t go home and be walking around Youngstown and have sleeves on a Sunday. That’s just not how it rolls.”
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