GREEN BAY - Corey Linsley’s impressive snap streak ended last week when he dropped out against Dallas with a concussion, but he won’t have to miss a game.
The Green Bay Packers center cleared concussion protocol Saturday, allowing him to play Monday night against the Detroit Lions.
“I’m all good,” Linsley said.
While the Packers will have Linsley, they’ll once again be without receiver Davante Adams. Coach Matt LaFleur ruled out Adams on Saturday. It’ll be the second straight game Adams misses because of a turf toe injury.
It was the second documented concussion of Linsley’s career, and the first since he was in high school. Linsley said he received a classic “bell rung” hit during a play and actually returned to the field on his next drive. That’s when the veteran center felt nauseous, something he never experiences during games.
“It wasn’t a big hit at all,” Linsley said. “I got my bell rung. We saw it happen. Red (Packers equipment manager Gordon Batty) said my chinstrap broke, so that could have played into it, just how my helmet wasn’t on correctly. Regardless, I went in the next drive and I couldn’t focus, and I was starting to get light sensitivity and I also got nauseous. I really never get nauseous during games, so that kind of freaked me out.
“I went in there, and the headache started pounding. That’s what happened.”
After the game, Linsley said he felt headaches, light sensitivity and more nausea. Those symptoms only lasted a day and a half, he said. By midweek, Linsley was confident he’d be able to play. He was limited in practice Thursday and Friday.
“It was kind of a freak thing,” Linsley said, “but I’m glad it was what it was and not something worse.”
Linsley's departure against the Cowboys ended a streak of 2,768 consecutive snaps that had originated in the 2016 season. He played every snap of the 2017 and 2018 seasons, becoming an iron man in the middle of the Packers offensive line.
The Packers were without safety Darnell Savage (ankle) and tight end Robert Tonyan (hip) during Saturday’s practice, their last before Monday night’s kickoff. Both were ruled out on the injury report Saturday, along with Adams.
Cornerback Tony Brown (hamstring) returned to practice after missing the past two weeks. Brown hadn’t participated since dropping out of the Packers’ loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Sept. 26.
Receivers improving on blocks
Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst likes big wide receivers – he drafted three who stood at least 6 feet, 3 inches last year – and his 53-man roster included only one (Darrius Shepherd) who was under 6 feet tall and 200 pounds. That philosophy aligned with LaFleur, whose offense requires receivers to block in the run game.
Through the first quarter of the season it has been noted that the group needs to continue to work on that, but after Sunday’s victory in Dallas receivers coach Alvis Whitted felt they turned a corner.
“I thought they played extremely hard in the perimeter in the run game,” Whitted said. “They took strides. They did what they were coached to do as far as knowing what the run was, where to fit, and to help get Aaron (Jones) out in space and make plays. I’m really excited because it’s a week-to-week thing. They’ve taken the next step and we’ve got to continue to take the next step and buy into it and hopefully it will become our identity every week.”
And not only are the pass catchers being asked to block on run calls, they are occasionally held back on the line of scrimmage to protect Rodgers on a throw to help sell the play-action passing game and help the tight end.
“When you’re down in what I call the bunker, you’ve got to be physical and you have to do whatever it takes to help protect ’12,’” Whitted said.
There have been some highlights for the group with that. First-year wideout Allen Lazard (6-5, 227) pass protected against Denver in Week 3 to free up fullback Danny Vitale for a 27-yard completion.
“Since day one I’ve always said that I just want to do whatever I can to help this team win and to help this team reach the Super Bowl. They obviously drew that play up and had me in mind and thought that I fit that role to go execute the play. Anytime I get on the field I’m trying to go out and go 100% and just give myself up for the team.”
Second-year receiver Jake Kumerow (6-4, 209) also dropped into pass protection in Dallas, and he ended up being somewhat of a lead blocker on an Aaron Jones touchdown run. Kumerow was coming across the line of scrimmage on a fly motion and block down the line, but the receiver told Whitted he may be better served turning the block toward the line of scrimmage to lead Jones.
“I was like, bro, play for each other,” Whitted said of that play. “Whatever it takes for us to get into that zone. He’s the type of kid, great character and he cares and he wants to win, so he’ll do whatever it takes. That’s just Jake.”
That’s what Kumerow did and Jones got in for one of his four rushing touchdowns.
“We asked those guys to block and get dirty and I thought those guys did a nice job with that,” LaFleur said. “They showed good physicality throughout the game. We had a couple knockdown blocks. I know Jake had one in the low red zone, so that's the stuff we're asking him to do.”
Burks easing his way back
Oren Burks didn’t expect to do much more than special teams in his first game back from a partially torn pectoral muscle Sunday. In fact, his first snap didn’t come until the second half.
But Burks was thrust into action after an injury to linebacker B.J. Goodson, forcing him to play 11 defensive snaps along with 19 special-teams snaps against the Cowboys.
“It did feel pretty good,” Burks said, “to get back out on the field, get reintroduced to playing speed. I had limited reps in practice last week. So it felt good to get out there in special teams and special situations on defense.
Burks said he was “a little sore” after the game, but nothing out of the ordinary. He’s been a full participant in practice this week, and should be good to go Monday night against the Lions.
Burks said last week was a good opportunity to get acclimated back to the field.
“Mentally the whole week,” Burks said, “I was kind of preparing for it. I’d been itching to play defense for awhile. So it was cool opportunity to get out there and show what I’ve got a little bit. It’s just a taste of what I feel like I’m capable of, so I’ve just got to keep it going.”