Packers Insider: Linsley gets thumbs up
The Packers' new center, JC Tretter, is getting as much scrutiny as anyone in training camp.
The starting job is his to lose, and though he's off to a so-so start there's still every reason to think he'll be the starter on opening day. But either way, the Packers have to feel a little better about the position after seeing fifth-round Corey Linsley in pads for two days.
Linsley surpassed Garth Gerhart early in camp as the No. 2 center and has looked every bit an NFL player in two padded practices, notwithstanding B.J. Raji whipping him on a one-on-one run blocking rep Wednesday. In two days of one-on-one pass blocking, for instance, Linsley is 5-0, including one win over Datone Jones and two over Josh Boyd.
One-on-ones aren't the be-all, but guard Josh Sitton said that while veteran linemen often use them to work on a given technique, "for young players it's about making the block." So far Linsley has shown the strong hands and balance that convinced general manager Ted Thompson to draft him off his game tape from Ohio State.
"Actually very impressed," Sitton said of Linsley. "He seems to be very instinctive. There have been times when his guy has gone away and his eyes have snapped back and gotten help with somebody else. A few little things like that have impressed me. His strength is impressive. He's a good football player."
In offseason practices, Scott Tolzien appeared to have narrowed the gap between him and incumbent backup quarterback Matt Flynn.
But four days into camp, Flynn clearly has been better. Mike McCarthy and his coaching staff can't say enough about Tolzien's work ethic and character, but the fourth-year pro still is holding the ball too long, too often. While he's had the occasional sharp throw, he's also been delivering his share of checkdowns and scrambling more than he'd probably be able to in a game.
On Wednesday in a red zone drill, he was fortunate to avoid an interception in the end zone when receiver Jarrett Boykin at the last instant ripped the ball out of defensive back Jarrett Bush's hands. In another red zone drill, Tolzien dropped the ball while in the pocket – it was unclear whether he never had full control of the ball, or if a running back accidentally knocked the ball loose on a play fake.
Tolzien will need to sharpen up in the preseason games to give himself a chance at beating out Flynn. In the meantime, Flynn looks like his throwing arm is livelier than last year, when he still was suffering from elbow tendinitis that dated back to training camp of 2012 with the Seattle Seahawks.
"This camp is the first time I've thrown 100 percent without pain since the middle of Seattle's camp (in '12)," Flynn said. "It's fun to throw again."
Did you notice
-- Nose tackle B.J. Raji looks rejuvenated. He's been getting excellent push on most of his one-on-one pass rushes, and in two different run-blocking drills (half line and one-on-one) the first two days he's pushed his way into the backfield several times.
"B.J.'s in great shape," coach Mike McCarthy said. "I thought he reported – I know (from) our strength staff where B.J. came in at with his weight and where he is and so forth. Some of the things we've changed, not really changed, but what we're emphasizing in B.J.'s particular job responsibility, I think he does very natural."
-- Starting right guard T.J. Lang started taking occasional team snaps Wednesday. He'd been limited to individual work the first three practices because of a sore shoulder.