There is a saying that you should never lose your job in sports to injury. Well, ask JC Tretter and Corey Linsley of the Green Bay Packers and they will certainly tell you a different story.
Recently, just days ago in fact, Packers head coach Mike McCarthy confirmed that Tretter, will indeed be the starting center this season and that’s regardless of whether Linsley, the starter for the past two seasons, is healthy to the start of the season.
There is no doubt, that through this play this preseason, Tretter has earned it. He’s entering his fourth year in the league and he’s never looked better. He’s doing a great job in the run game and he’s holding up in pass protection better than ever. Maybe his one-game stint at left tackle assisted him there.
However, it’s still a bit ironic that Tretter took the job that was supposed to be his two years ago, but then wasn’t because of injuries — and Linsley.
Back in 2014, Tretter was entering his second season and was all set to become the Packers’ starting center. He even started in the preseason, before an injury sidelined him for a good chunk of the season, weeks before the season-opener.
In his absence, Linsley played well and by the time Tretter was healthy again, he was a backup.
Yet, Tretter didn’t pout, instead, he kept improving. Last season, he was a valued backup and held up well at tackle in the playoffs against the Redskins. He also started two games at center and played well. And because of that, McCarthy said that he viewed Tretter as a starting-caliber player.
This summer, with Linsley now out due to injury, Tretter has taken the opportunity to prove it.
Linsley, who is on the physically unable to perform list, could start the season there, which would mean he would miss at least the first six weeks. But even when he returns, if Tretter is playing well, I wouldn’t expect the Packers to make a change.
The question is, how will the 53-man roster be affected in the meantime?
For starters, it gives Don Barclay a better chance to make the roster. Since the change has been announced, Barclay has been back at center, taking snaps, which means he could be in line to be the backup, almost assuring him a spot on the final 53.
The announcement of Tretter also shows me that Linsley will not be back anytime soon and that it’s likely he will start on the PUP and miss a big chunk of the season.
Long term, Tretter is still a free agent, but if he plays well, the Packers would have to be pretty dim not to consider re-signing him. Yet, the great thing about Tretter is his versatility, he could start at guard or even tackle if needed, which would allow the Packers to play Linsley at center again in the future, if that gave them their best combination o-lineman.
But this year, Tretter is starting at center, finishing there however, it’s entirely up to him and his play on the field.