Packers center Corey Linsley doesn't plan to wear a face shield during games
GREEN BAY - Green Bay Packers center Corey Linsley is not planning on wearing a face shield on his helmet when he practices and plays this season.
But that could change.
Linsley said he hadn’t given a lot of thought to the fact he’ll be face up on defensive linemen for entire games and the amount of breath exchanged at the line of scrimmage isn’t conducive to avoiding COVID-19 if one of the players has it.
"Honestly, I guess this speaks a little to my ignorance, but I don’t know,” Linsley said. “I don’t really have any information regarding that one way or the other.
“If that’s something, our trainers come to us and say, ‘Hey, look, studies show this and that, certain percentage level of reduction on breathing on people and contracting the virus and we anticipated lowering everybody’s chance of getting it,' yeah, for sure, that’s something I would consider, absolutely.”
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The NFL is recommending players wear a face shield that has a built-in filter over the mouth, hoping it will act like a mask in limiting the amount of respiratory droplets being expelled from the mouth. However, the shields are not mandatory and some players aren’t keen on wearing them.
Linsley, who has a newborn at home, said he and his wife have been conservative when it comes to exposure with other people and he’s willing to explore anything that would help keep him healthy.
The players have four weeks to try equipment that might help if they come in contact on the field with someone who has the virus. Players are going to be tested regularly, but as events in Major League Baseball have shown, there are going to be COVID-19 carriers who slip through the cracks.
The NFL is working on other options it hopes will help players stay healthy.
For Linsley, wearing a face shield that covers his entire face could present a problem when it comes to yelling out signals at the line of scrimmage. On the other hand, the Packers use hand signals when they’re on the road and they could use those all the time.
If players mostly reject the face shields, it might not matter what Linsley wears because the virus can still spread when it contacts a person's hands and they touch their face. Linemen on both sides often get their hands up toward the opponent’s helmet and wind up touching their face.
“I don’t know if that's something some guys will do,” Linsley said of wearing face shields. “We haven't had any talks about it in the O-line room. I haven't had any talks with any guys about it. I don't know if guys are talking about it or not.
“I don't anticipate wearing the face shield, but maybe it's something that they recommend, and I'll change my mind come time for the season."
Picking up the pace
After ranking almost dead average in points and yards last season, the Packers hope a quicker offense will be a better offense.
The offense’s tempo was more plodding in coach Matt LaFleur’s first season. With players adjusting to the new playbook, the Packers did not rely on the hurry-up pace LaFleur’s offenses have used in the past. They often weren’t as quick before the snap as the system former coach Mike McCarthy used for 13 seasons, either.
Linsley said he expects that to change in LaFleur’s second season.
“Without a doubt,” Linsley said, “we’re going to get to that and put an even greater emphasis on that this year. Because last year, I don’t think we took full advantage of that, especially with as much as coach LaFleur has used that in the past. With kind of the film study and everything we’ve done on it, that’s something he likes to use and definitely something we like to use and we’ve used in the past. So I’m assuming later in camp we’ll get to that.”
The Packers won’t be on the practice field at anything more than a walk-through pace until midway through this month. Even still, Linsley said, the hurry-up tempo is something that likely wouldn’t be implemented until later in camp, even under normal, non-pandemic circumstances.
Linsley said the foundation of knowledge acquired last season should help the offense operate more quickly.
“We have a year under our belts in the same system,” Linsley said. “We all know the plays a lot better than we did last year. We all know what we’re trying to accomplish on our plays, not just our assignments but big picture-wise, and we can kind of anticipate the direction that we’re going in games. You know, all of that is going to play into our success this year, and I expect us to take another step.”
Packers' COVID list stays same
Around the NFL, the number of players being put on the COVID-19 reserve list has dropped significantly now that all the teams have reported to training camp and those who were infected or came into contact with someone who was infected were quarantined.
The Packers still have five players on the list: kicker Mason Crosby, tight end Jace Sternberger, long snapper Hunter Bradley, linebacker Greg Roberts and defensive tackle Treyvon Hester.
No one has been added since Monday and no one has come off the list.
Around the league, players who started out on the COVID-19 reserve list are starting to come back.
Atlanta had four players who were activated Wednesday. Cleveland has had all four players on its list activated over the past three days. Detroit has also had four players activated, all in the last two days.
By unofficial count, 90 players have been put on the COVID-19 reserve list since July 26 and nearly half – 43 – have been moved off the list and onto the active roster.
The social distancing this offseason didn’t keep coach Matt LaFleur from further rehabbing his torn Achilles heel, though it’s uncertain whether he’s pleased with the results.
LaFleur tore his Achilles while playing basketball 16 months ago, during his first offseason as Packers head coach. The injury prevented him from running around the practice field as he wished, relegating him to a golf cart.
LaFleur said rehab continued into this spring, when he took advantage of down time because of social distancing.
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“The one thing that it definitely afforded, I guess, not being in the building,” LaFleur said, “was working out with (Packers strength and conditioning coordinator) Chris Gizzi almost every day and really rehabbing to try to get my weak calf back. it still does not look right, it still does not look good, but it’s functional.
With more mobility, the 40-year-old LaFleur should be able to take a more active role to coaching when the Packers return to the practice field this month.
“I can run around and move on the field,” LaFleur said, “and that’s what makes coaching so much fun, is just getting out there and running around with the guys.”