PackersNews.com reporters Ryan Wood and Michael Cohen report from the Packers' first open OTA practice. (May 23, 2017)
GREEN BAY - Despite the debut of free-agent signing Jahri Evans, which plugged a significant hole at right guard, the Green Bay Packers were still without their complete offensive line during Tuesday’s first public organized team activity.
Center Corey Linsley, the unquestioned starter after the departure of JC Tretter, was present for warm-ups but could not participate in anything more as he recovers from offseason ankle surgery.
“I’m feeling good, yeah, feeling really good,” Linsley said in the locker room after practice. “Just rehabbing and trying my best to get back as quick as I can. I’m looking to be back as soon as I can, whenever that is.”
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The original injury dates to the second half of the 2015 season. Linsley started the first 10 games that year before dropping out against the Minnesota Vikings in late November. He appeared in just five of the remaining eight games with Tretter taking his spot in relief.
Linsley said the injury itself was difficult to describe and he declined to offer specifics. The problem lingered for more than a year and bothered him throughout the 2016 season as well. Ultimately, he flew to Charlotte to visit Dr. Robert Anderson, a noted foot and ankle specialist, and had the procedure earlier this spring.
“It feels a lot better,” Linsley said. “(Anderson) was telling me it would feel better, and honestly it feels better now than it ever has and we’re not even through the whole process of my rehab, so I feel great about that.”
Still, Linsley was evasive when asked about a potential return to the field. He wouldn’t even commit to being available for the start of training camp in late July.
A year ago, Linsley suffered a serious hamstring injury during an offseason workout and started the season on the PUP list. He missed the first eight weeks of the season before eventually replacing Tretter, who suffered a knee injury against the Atlanta Falcons. Linsley started 12 consecutive games to end the year.
The patience he was forced to show while rehabbing the hamstring is something he plans to draw on once again.
“As I’ve learned here from last year, it’s whenever they tell me,” Linsley said. “I let them know when I’m ready to go and when I’m 100 percent, and we have a timetable set up. From that timetable it’s kind of a joint effort by myself, obviously the training staff, management. We’ll figure out when that point is.
“It was a long process. The thing I learned is that — obviously this is cliché — but trust in the process because it obviously worked out last year with my extended amount of time that I was out, and when I came back I didn’t have any problems.”
Cornerback Quinten Rollins is hoping for similar results from his own offseason procedure.
Rollins told the Journal Sentinel he underwent groin surgery to fix a problem that stretched from October through January. He flew to Philadelphia to visit Dr. William Meyers, the prominent core muscle surgeon who operated on cornerback Damarious Randall in October. Like Rollins, Randall was bothered by a nagging groin problem throughout the season.
Several months removed from surgery, Rollins was on the field Tuesday and did not appear to have any restrictions. He said the groin felt healthy around the same time he reported for the offseason conditioning program in mid-April.
“It was definitely great getting the chance to actually get back healthy,” Rollins said. “It’s been great. Night-and-day better.”
Attendance report: As was the case with first-round pick Kenny Clark a season ago, rookie Kevin King will miss most of the offseason workouts as he completes his final semester of college at Washington.
Players whose colleges utilize the quarter system are required to return to school until classes finish in June. They are not allowed to participate in the conditioning program or organized activities during that stretch.
However, players do remain in contact with their coaches through phone calls and Skype sessions while on campus.
In addition to King, undrafted rookie linebacker Josh Letuligasenoa (Cal Poly) is also affected by the quarter system.
Punter Jacob Schum, cornerback Demetri Goodson, outside linebacker Vince Biegel and wide receiver Michael Clark were unable to practice Tuesday due to injury.
Outside linebacker Clay Matthews missed practice due to a personal matter. He is expected back for next week's sessions.