McCarthy committed to Linsley as starting center

Ryan Wood
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Green Bay Packers center Corey Linsley (63) points to the defense against the San Diego Chargers at Lambeau Field.

Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy is sticking with Corey Linsley as the team’s starting center, even though JC Tretter started Sunday against the Oakland Raiders.

Linsley, the second-year center, was active on the Packers’ 46-man, game-day roster Sunday, but he didn’t play. Instead, Tretter was on the field for each of the offense’s 76 snaps. McCarthy said the decision to keep Linsley on the sideline was a “medical situation” made for the “long-term interest” of the offense.

“There’s no controversy or competition,” McCarthy said. “No, I’m telling you the way it is. It’s a medical situation, and Corey’s not 100 percent out of the woods. Until I’m comfortable where he is, then there’s no point to have the conversation.”

Linsley has hardly played since spraining his ankle Nov. 22 against the Minnesota Vikings. He tried to return two weeks later at the Detroit Lions, but he was knocked out of that game in the first half after reaggravating his sprained ankle.

Tretter has started three of the past four games and “played good football,” McCarthy said. He was expected to be the team’s starting center last season, but a preseason knee injury opened the door for Linsley, a fifth-round pick last year.

McCarthy was adamant Linsley’s injury does not open the door for Tretter.

“We’ll see where Corey is (at practice) Wednesday and continue to work through it,” McCarthy said.

It seems nobody on the Packers’ offensive line is immune to injury. Tretter was limping near the end of Sunday’s game. Left tackle David Bakhtiari was also knocked out with an ankle injury late in the fourth quarter.

Bakhtiari was blocking Oakland Raiders defensive end Denico Autry 4 yards downfield when running back James Starks fell on top of his ankle. After the game, Bakhtiari said it was his “ankle and mid-leg” that was injured, which could indicate a high-ankle sprain. He expected to have more tests done Monday.

“I always like to finish my games,” Bakhtiari said. “I’m not a fan of coming off the field, but you’ve got to be smart with yourself and your body.”

Bakhtiari battled through a knee injury earlier this month, but said he entered Sunday’s game feeling as healthy as he had in weeks. His injury against the Raiders was unrelated to his previous knee injury, he said.

The Packers offensive line was remarkably healthy last year. The same five linemen started each of the final 16 games, counting playoffs. While the offensive line could be in worse shape – none have suffered a season-ending injury – it has dealt with many more injuries than last season.

“As you can see,” Bakhtiari said, “we’ve got depth. Guys can come in and play at a high level behind us.”

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