When the Green Bay Packers released their final injury report last week, four offensive lineman were included.
Corey Linsley, the second-year center, was the only starter left off the list.
So it would be reasonable for backup JC Tretter to not expect any snaps Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings. Instead, Tretter said, he studied throughout the week. His preparation paid off when Linsley left in the first half with an ankle injury.
“That’s your job,” Tretter said. “That’s what you have to be ready to do. You just have to be prepared. You have to prepare like a starter, know your assignments, know what the game plan is and do what that was. You have to play well, and you have to step in (replacing) a great player. So you have to play up to that standard.”
It was clear the Packers’ offense didn’t suffer from having a backup in the center of its offensive line.
On the road, the offense had one of its best and most balanced games. The Packers scored 30 points for the first time since Sept. 28, and running back Eddie Lacy hit the 100-yard mark for the first time this season.
Tretter played 66 snaps, including 34 as a pass blocker. He only allowed one quarterback hurry, with no sacks or hits, according to Pro Football Focus. His biggest challenge wasn’t blocking the Vikings’ interior defensive linemen.
Typically, the Packers’ center is responsible for communication along the offensive line, making calls before the snap. Make the wrong call, and the play can fall apart before it even begins. Tretter had the luxury of being flanked by veteran guards T.J. Lang and Josh Sitton, but the center position is among the most demanding on offense.
Packers coach Mike McCartthy said the offense’s smooth operation showed how well Tretter played.
“I would say he did pretty good,” McCarthy said. “I think any time you have a big injury like that, particularly to a center or a quarterback or a key position where the mechanics of the offense are directly tied to the players that handle the ball each and every play – and that’s your center and quarterback – and you’re able to stay with your game plan and not get out of anything. So without seeing the film, I would think he played well.”
Tretter plays every offensive line position, but said it helped that he was plugged in at center. A year ago, he was expected to win the starting center job until a training camp injury opened the door for Linsley.
Finally, Tretter was able to play extended snaps at the position he once thought would be his.
“It’s one of those things,” Tretter said, “you’re always ready. Me and Corey talk throughout the week. We talk about game plan, and you have to see how he’s going to call things. Because if you go in, you have to call it the way he’d call it because everybody has to be on the same page.
“So me and Corey do a good job of communicating, being on the same page, what he’s going to call. Talking to the guards, and making sure they’re on the same page with how everything’s going to be called. I think we did a good job.”