In 2014, J.C. Tretter was the Green Bay Packers’ starting center until he was injured, which opened the door for Corey Linsley.
In a case of role reversal, Tretter was anointed the starting center on Monday. Linsley, who hasn’t put on his helmet and snapped the ball since the playoff loss to Arizona in January, remains on the physically unable to perform list with an injured hamstring.
Tretter’s steady-as-he-goes approach, however, wouldn’t let him celebrate the news.
“This is the first step,” Tretter said after Monday’s practice. “This is about what goes on from here. It’s about continuing to do your job and do it well. The end goal wasn’t this. The end goal was to continue to play at a high level. I don’t think the goal’s been reached. As a team, we still have so much more to accomplish. I’m excited to be a part of what I think this team can do.”
It’s been a long road to the starting lineup for Tretter. After being a fourth-round pick in 2013, Tretter sustained a broken ankle during organized team activities. Tretter seized control of the center position early in training camp in 2014 but sustained a knee injury in the third preseason game. It wasn’t even a battle at training camp last summer, with Linsley never leaving the starting lineup. However, Tretter fared well in three starts at center when Linsley went down with a sprained ankle, then played incredibly well at left tackle in a playoff win at Washington.
In light of that history, Tretter has to be at least a little excited, right?
“You’re excited,” Tretter said. “Like I’ve always said, when you get on this level, you want to play and you want to go out there and show people what you can do. Obviously, you’re excited to have the opportunity to go out there and show people you can play. But, again, I’ve tried to keep the same mind-set through the rough patches and now this, and just trying to be steady and not really changing my approach. I’m not looking at anything differently. Just go out there and continue to work on your craft every day and not take anything for granted and play to the best of your abilities.”
The Packers were reaching a point of no return with Linsley. Tretter made the decision easier by turning in a strong training camp.
“It’s important to recognize what’s going on each and every day,” coach Mike McCarthy said in announcing the news before Monday’s practice. “J.C. Tretter has had an excellent camp. J.C., in my view, has earned the starting position at center. Availability is a big part of what you look for in your players. It’s unfortunate what Corey is going through and continuing to battle to get back out there. But there’s been a lot of time that’s gone by since he’s been out there. I think J.C. has done an excellent job.”
The timing couldn’t be better from a financial perspective, with free agency on the horizon after the season. After showing he can be a quality utilityman last year, now Tretter has a chance to show he’s a quality starting center.
“Yeah, no doubt, but I think there’s still several months to go, and if you don’t do what you can on the field, then it doesn’t really matter about anything like that,” he said. “So, again, it’s just going out there and continuing to play well is the most important part.”
-- In other offensive line news, the Packers released guard Matt Rotheram (and long snapper Jesse Schmitt) with injury settlements. Rotheram sustained an injured biceps in the first preseason game vs. Cleveland but had struggled through the start of camp while getting a trial at center.
Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.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.