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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014

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In Sports

Green Bay Packers rookie center Corey Linsley feels confident he'll be ready for the challenge in Seattle Thursday night. (PHOTO: Jim Biever/Packers.com)

Packers rookie center Linsley ready for Seattle


GREEN BAY – Tuesday afternoon, Green Bay Packers wide receiver Jarrett Boykin leaned on his locker in Lambeau Field, and was asked about his thoughts of the highly touted Seattle Seahawks secondary – a unit led by the loquacious Richard Sherman.

"From our standpoint, we just want to go out there and stay level headed and just let all the small stuff; like just overlook it and don't even get engaged in any after the whistle stuff," Boykin said, referencing the physical nature of Sherman and company, and their tendency to talk.

But the Packers receivers aren't the only ones who will need to keep level-headed Thursday night at CenturyLink Field in Seattle.

That same afternoon, just under two thousand miles away, Seattle linebacker Bruce Irvin gladly stirred up some small stuff when he told USA Today he was going to "pray" for Packers rookie center Corey Linsley.

"It's going to be a long night, man," Irvin told Tom Pelissero. "We've got to just take advantage of it."

Linsley is a fifth-round draft pick out of Ohio State University, and he was forced into the starting role just two weeks ago when J.C. Tretter injured a knee in the third preseason game against Oakland.

Linsley started the Packers final preseason game against Kansas City last Thursday, but he did not snap the ball to Aaron Rodgers or work with starting guards T.J. Lang, Josh Sitton and tackles David Bakhtiari and Bryan Bulaga.

"Corey did good," Packers backup quarterback Matt Flynn said of Linsley's performance against the Chiefs. "Corey's going to be alright. He's played center all his life, strong kid, and he's gonna have good people around him – two guards and one MVP quarterback behind him, and so he's going to be fine."

"He did a really nice job. We weren't getting a lot of exotic looks or anything, but he did a nice job of setting the huddle, getting up, getting to the line of scrimmage, making a quick declaration and getting us in the right spot. He's been impressive to me since I've been kind of working with him since the beginning of OTAs, so I've been with him first hand. He's doing a nice job."

Linsley said his main focus in the week between the third and fourth preseason games was commanding the line of scrimmage, calling out the blocking assignments quickly, clearly, and with authority.

He felt he accomplished that – as well as making improvements in technical areas of his games.

As for the week between that Chiefs game and taking on the league's most dominant – and talkative – defense, Linsley had one two goals:

"I just want to prove to these guys that I'm on my mental game, prove to these guys that I know Seattle just as well as they do," the rookie said. "And prove to my teammates that I'm somebody they can count on. And I think that will really only be truly proven in the game.

"But, regardless, I still want to come out of this week knowing Seattle as well as I can."

Bakhtiari walked in Linsley's shoes last year at this time, when the rookie was thrust into a starting role due to injury and was forced to take on one of the best pass rushes in the league, on the road, against the San Francisco 49ers.

And through their work together this week, the second-year left tackle has little doubt in Linsley's ability.

"I'm actually really proud of him, how he's progressed this week," Bakhtiari said. "He doesn't need to prove it to us. He needs to prove it to the nation that he's the center of the future. That should be his step, you know?

"To have our approval means something, but at the end the day he's got the approval of everyone not only in this organization but out there, that he is a center, a starting center, and he needs to be respected as one and he's a good one at that. I'm excited for him to go in there and see what he's got come game day."

As for running the no-huddle, Linsley is comfortable at it – he ran it at Ohio State. He said he's comfortable playing on a big stage and in a hostile, loud venue because, again, he played at Ohio State.

But, he acknowledged starting your first NFL game against that defense, on that field as a Super Bowl banner is raised, is going to take a little adjustment. But, he's prepared for it.

"Yeah. I mean, there's no point in being nervous about it, you know?," Linsley said. "Obviously I am a little bit but there's no point in breaking down and not having confidence about it. That's what (offensive line) coach (James Campen) and I talked about early on – no negative thoughts.

"You look at what you got better at every day, and you say OK, I got better at this today and we'll get better at this tomorrow. It's the only way you can look at it at this point."


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