Corey Linsley unconcerned with how David Bakhtiari's new deal could affect his free agency
GREEN BAY - With a big smile, Green Bay Packers center Corey Linsley insisted multiple times Thursday that, no, there are no hard feelings with left tackle David Bakhtiari.
More than that, Linsley said, he was truly happy to see his teammate get rewarded with the richest contract any NFL offensive lineman ever has signed. Bakhtiari’s four-year, $105.5 million extension will keep him with the Packers for the foreseeable future, and most players like to stay with the team that drafted them.
“I’m nothing but happy for Dave,” Linsley said. “That’s the god’s honest truth.”
It’s also true that Bakhtiari’s extension will make it harder for the Packers to retain Linsley, a reality he surely understands. No, Linsley doesn’t harbor any ill will against Bakhtiari or the Packers, who showed their All-Pro left tackle is a priority.
Linsley said he isn’t thinking about his contract, no matter how difficult that might be to believe considering the seventh-year center is scheduled to enter free agency next spring.
“I’ve been taking this year one week at a time from the beginning,” Linsley said. “I didn’t enter the season thinking, ‘I can’t wait for my deal to get done.’ I’m thinking, worse-case scenario, I’m out and I got to play well for myself and this team for – not necessarily for a new contract. It is what it is, and that’s just been my mentality from Day 1.
“It’s not really going to change, and I’m not like surprised Dave got paid. It’s obvious it was coming. It was just a matter of how much for him, and whether he was going to break the bank or not.”
Darius Leonard eager to face Aaron Rodgers
In the NFL, motivation can come from all kinds of sources. For Indianapolis Colts linebacker Darius Leonard, this week’s “extra motivation” against the Packers stems from a conversation Aaron Rodgers had with San Francisco 49ers linebacker Fred Warner a couple weeks ago.
After a drubbing of an injury-depleted 49ers team, Rodgers told Warner he views him as the NFL’s top linebacker. It shouldn’t be that surprising considering how well Warner played against the Packers. He had 11 tackles, one sack and a forced fumble in the Packers’ regular-season trip to San Francisco last season, followed with six tackles in the NFC championship game. Leonard then had 13 tackles in Week 9 this season.
Still, the compliment didn’t sit well when it reached Leonard’s ears.
“You hear things like that,” Leonard said, “it just gives you that extra motivation to go out and play. I’ve been looking forward to this game ever since he said it. He’s been in the league a long time, and for him to say that to Fred Warner, they play them twice a year. So my first time on him, I want to leave a mark, hopefully change his mind of what he said about that.”
To be fair, Rodgers wasn’t bashful in his praise for Leonard this week.
He has never played against Leonard, who entered the NFL in 2018 and immediately was selected All-Pro. The Packers last hosted the Colts in 2016. Still, as Rodgers told Warner on the field in San Francisco, the film doesn’t lie.
Rodgers said he’s impressed with Leonard’s film.
“He does it all,” Rodgers said. “He's a really heady player. He's super athletic sideline to sideline. He's also a very willing tackler. He's one of those guys that makes them go. It will be a fun challenge for us. I have a lot of respect for him as a player. He's a tough guy. He's always around the football."
Adams does not practice
Davante Adams did not practice Thursday as he manages an ankle injury suffered against Jacksonville. He finished the game Sunday and caught the game-winning touchdown, and after participating on a limited basis Wednesday he felt he was trending toward playing in Indianapolis.
On a positive note, starting cornerbacks Jaire Alexander (concussion) and Kevin King (quad) practiced in full. They have not played together since starting against Atlanta on Oct. 5. King was injured in the first half of that game and Alexander left the San Francisco game on Nov. 5.
Joining Adams on the sidelines for practice were Montravius Adams (toe), Marcedes Lewis (knee) and Tyler Ervin (wrist/ribs). Wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown (knee) did practice after missing Wednesday’s session.
Jonathan Taylor’s role diminishing?
When Marlon Mack suffered a season-ending injury for the Indianapolis Colts in Week 1, it looked like Wisconsin alumnus and second-round pick Jonathan Taylor could be set up for a run to a potential Rookie of the Year campaign – an idea that didn’t seem far-fetched after a 101-yard, 1-touchdown effort in a Week 2 victory over Minnesota.
But even though the 21-year-old former Badgers star has started every game since, his role in the offense has actually been reduced since that breakout against the Vikings.
He has gotten 15 or more carries only one time (17 in Week 4 against Chicago) and has not topped 70 yards since. In fact, he has rushed 12, 11, six and seven times the last four weeks for a total of 121 yards at just 3.4 yards per carry.
He has caught 10 passes for 96 yards, however.
Jordan Wilkins has rushed 39 times for 156 yards and a score while Nyheim Hines has 29 touches for 215 total yards and four scores the last three weeks for the Colts.
“We kind of role our backs and do it by committee,” Colts head coach Frank Reich said. “(Taylor’s) playing his role very well. Very excited about how productive he’s been as a receiver. Coming out of Wisconsin, those guys don’t get much of a look at what they do receiving, but we felt like he could contribute to us in the passing game. Get a big man with that kind of speed out in space. He’s done a good job for us out there, and as a runner, he’s running it well. He’s got size, speed and strength. So we’ll continue to role him in there, and he’s been very productive.”
- ANALYSIS: Rashan Gary shows he's ready for more playing time
- SILVERSTEIN: Packers walking tightrope with Bakhtiari, Clark deals
The lack of carries for Taylor has coincided with a reduction in play time as his snap counts have gone down each of the last four weeks while the work for Wilkins and Hines has increased.
“He looks like he’s going to be a really good back,” Packers head coach Matt LaFleur said of Taylor. “Certainly he’s a guy that was impressive coming out. I just think he’s got a really bright future in this league. I really do.
“Regardless of whether his snaps are going up or down, this is a marathon. It’s not a sprint. It is a bit of a learning curve for young players, and they continue to grow. You’ve got to give them time to go through that process.”
Dominic Olejniczak, a former mayor of Green Bay and longtime board member of the Packers, is a member of the 2020 class of inductees to the National Polish American Sports Hall of Fame.
Olejniczak, who died in 1989, was the longest-serving president of the Packers at 24 years. He oversaw an expansion of Lambeau Field, substantial growth in organization value and headed the search committee that hired Vince Lombardi. As president, Olejniczak oversaw seven championships (five NFL championships and Super Bowls I and II). He was inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame in 1979.