The Seattle Seahawks handled the Green Bay Packers at home under the lights of Century Link Field Thursday night to kick off the 2014 season. It marked the fourth straight year Aaron Rodgers took a snap from a different center Week 1.
After starter JC Tretter sustained a serious knee injury that forced him to be placed on the Injured Reserve/Designated to Return list, rookie Corey Linsley was handed the job in place of Tretter and the former lineman from Ohio State believes his first NFL start was fair enough.
"I think I did decent for my first start" the 301-pounder said post-game in the locker room Thursday. "But, obviously that remains to be seen."
"I thought he played well," his head coach Mike McCarthy explained on Friday afternoon. "He stepped up to the plate, and I thought he did a good job."
On Green Bay's first offensive drive, the Packers started out fast by operating their no-huddle offense. The drive included a nice run of 6 yards by running back Eddie Lacy, which was followed up by a 15-yard gallop two plays later. Unfortunately the drive stalled after Rodgers was sacked by linebacker O'Brien Schofield on third down, forcing the Packers to punt. Although the series ended early, Linsley managed to operate well in his first regular season no-huddle action early on.
"I felt really comfortable with it," Linsley said. "Even more comfortable than I thought I was going to be. I'm not sure that we had a miscommunication on the offensive line, so that was a credit to Josh (Sitton) and T.J. (Lang) as well. They helped me out with anything I might have missed. It was a good thing we did."
The Seahawks limited Green Bay's offensive attack by limiting quarterback Aaron Rodgers to dink-and-dunk passes and eliminating the Packers' run offense (the team only gained 80 yards in total on the ground), though the team averaged more than six yards per carry up the middle behind Linsley's blocks. On the other side of the ball, Seattle smashed through Green Bay's defensive line and shrugged off the team's secondary. The loss was a disappointing performance to start the season for a Green Bay team that prepared the entire off-season for this one particular game.
"As far as coming in here and playing the style of football game we seeked, we did not accomplish that by any means." McCarthy said after the game. "We felt all week coming up here -- playing in this environment against an excellent football team -- you have games of momentum swings. And you have to swing it back, and we we're not able to do that tonight."
Despite the positives from Linsley, with the good comes the bad. During the second quarter, Linsley did have a miscommunication with Rodgers under center that forced the Packers to burn their final timeout in the half. Rodgers scolded his rookie center after the play for not delivering the ball on time. However, the man who received the mouthful from the former NFL MVP and Super Bowl champion quarterback had no problem with the reaction.
"Without a doubt, that's the leader right there. The leader of our offense ... this team. I thought that it was an honor to snap the ball to a guy like Aaron," Linsley explained.
The Packers will put Thursday's loss behind them as they prepare to pay close attention to their next opponent on Sunday. Rex Ryan and his stout, yet short-handed cornerback defensive unit from New York will travel to Green Bay for Week 2.
The Jets still have a young and terrorizing defensive line that is highlighted by promising players such as 2014 Defensive Rookie of the Year Sheldon Richardson and defensive tackle Muhammad Wilkerson, who registered 10.5 sacks last season. The week after that September 14 game, the Packers will travel to Detroit to play Nick Farley, Ndamukong Suh and the Lions.
Linsley and the offensive line group face another pair of tough challenges in the weeks ahead, but the interior of the line, including the rookie appears ready to take them on.