J.C. Tretter Likely to Start at Center for Green Bay Packers

By acting like a professional, J.C. Tretter has played well in extensive playing time the last three games in place of Corey Linsley.

Green Bay Packers center Corey Linsley will be “hard-pressed” to be ready for Sunday’s game against the Dallas Cowboys, coach Mike McCarthy said on Friday morning, meaning J.C. Tretter likely will make his second NFL start.

Generally, starters are starters and backups are backups for a reason. However, Tretter has played well while replacing Linsley during the first series at Minnesota in Week 11, starting vs. Chicago in Week 12 and replacing Linsley again during the second quarter at Detroit in Week 13.

“We haven’t missed a beat with him in there,” McCarthy said. “J.C.’s a fine football player. He’s very conscientious. He’s on top of everything and you would expect nothing but that from him. His professionalism is as high or higher as anybody on our football team.”

Tretter, a fourth-round pick in 2013, missed almost all of his rookie season with an ankle injury sustained during an offseason practice. Nonetheless, after Evan Dietrich-Smith signed with Tampa Bay in free agency, Tretter essentially was handed the starting job at center in 2014. However, in the third preseason game, Tretter sustained a knee injury that sidelined him for the first half of the season. By the time he was healthy, Linsley, a fifth-round rookie at the time, had solidified his spot in the starting lineup.

In three games, Tretter has been penalized once and allowed neither a sack nor quarterback hit.

“I’ve always been confident in what I could do, so I was never worried or needed any visual proof that I could do anything,” he said. “I trust my abilities and I trust my technique and what the coaches have taught, and I was ready to go.”

In most instances, a player won’t lose his starting job due to injury. But that’s exactly what happened to Tretter last year. He never complained, though, even when a training-camp battle at center this summer really never got under way as the Packers stuck with Linsley after his solid rookie season.

“Obviously, I think everybody at this level wants to play, wants to be in there and playing,” Tretter said. “I don’t think it’s easy for anybody, but I can understand what this team has and the potential of this team, so I just want to do whatever this team needs me to do to help us get that ultimate goal. So I’m never going to be someone who complains or anything like that. Whatever the coaches ask or whatever my teammates ask of me, I’ll be there for them.”

All five of the starting offensive linemen are on the injury report but McCarthy said “we’re making progress” in getting the other four ready. Linsley is doubtful, right tackle Bryan Bulaga is questionable and right guard T.J. Lang and left guard Josh Sitton are probable. Bulaga and Lang were inactive for the Detroit game.

McCarthy said receiver Ty Montgomery, who has missed the last six games with a high-ankle sprain, is “looking much better.” The availability of outside linebacker Nick Perry (shoulder), who didn’t practice on Thursday, won’t be determined until Saturday’s practice, McCarthy said.

Montgomery wouldn't speculate on his availability but is optimistic for the first time since aggravating the injury before the Minnesota game three weeks ago.

"It’s been rough," he said. "It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to deal with it, and I had an injury college. It was rough for me. I like to play, I like to feel like I’m contributing. Even if I’m not a starter, at least I’m able to practice and help the team get better. I haven’t been able to do any of that. It’s been a blessing to get back out there this week."

Packers Injury Report
Player (injury): Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. Status.
LT David Bakhtiari (knee): Full, Full, Full. Probable.
RT Bryan Bulaga (ankle): Limited, Limited, Limited. Questionable.
G T.J. Lang (shoulder): Limited, Limited, Limited. Probable.
C Corey Linsley (ankle): DNP, DNP, DNP. Doubtful.
ILB Clay Matthews (ankle): Limited, Limited, Limited. Probable.
WR Ty Montgomery (ankle): Limited, Limited, Limited. Questionable.
OLB Nick Perry (shoulder): Limited, DNP, DNP. Questionable.
CB Damarious Randall (hamstring): Full, Full, Full. Probable.
G Josh Sitton (back): Limited, Limited, Limited. Probable.
Note: Friday's participation is an estimation because the Packers did not practice.

Cowboys Injury Report
Player (injury): Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. Status.
WR Dez Bryant (foot/knee): Full, Full, Full. Probable.
DE Greg Hardy (shin): Not listed, Full, Full. Probable.
S Jeff Heath (shoulder): Limited, Limited, Limited. Probable.
QB Tony Romo (left shoulder): Out.

Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PackerReport.

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