Green Bay Packers vs. Seattle Seahawks Preview: Rookie lineman may be most important player
As the Green Bay Packers and the reigning champs Seattle Seahawks get set to face-off in the NFL's first regular season game, many eyes will be on the big names - this includes stars such as Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, Jordy Nelson, Eddy Lacy, and the list goes on.
However, due to a recent injury suffered by Packers starting center JC Tretter, the most important player in the game may not be a star but rookie Corey Linsley.
Linsley, a 23-year old center out of Ohio State, will start tonight's game without having ever snapped the ball to quarterback Aaron Rodgers during the preseason.
Unfortunately for Linsley, he'll have to get his first game-experience with Rodgers while going up against the championship-caliber defense of the Seahawks. This is essentially the same defense that held future hall-of-famer Peyton Manning to one touchdown during last season's Super Bowl.
Judging from recent comments by Seahawks linebacker Bruce Irvin, Seattle's defense - affectionately known as the "Legion of Boom" - has no plans to show mercy to the young lineman.
"I'm going to pray for him," Irvin told reporters Tuesday, according to ESPN. "It's going to be a long night, man. We've got to just take advantage of it."
"All the weaknesses that [Linsley] shows us, we've got to expose it," Irvin told reporters. "Hopefully, Bane going to do what I know he's going to do to him. So, we've just got to be ready."
The "Bane" to which Irvin referred is Seahawks nose tackle Brandon Mebane. Mebane is widely known as one of the best nose tackles in the NFL and will most likely be Linsley's head-to-head matchup for a majority of the night.
In addition to Bane, Linsley will have to deal with the Seahawks' 12th man. The fans at Century Link Field are known for being arguably the loudest in the league. Unless the Packers use a silent count the entire game, the rookie center will have to make sure he hears Rodgers correctly and snaps the ball on time. If the two are not the same page, Green Bay could see a number of fumbled snaps or false starts throughout the game. (However, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Rodgers and the Packers have been practicing using sign language to run the team's no huddle offense.)
Despite the worry surrounding Linsley, Rodgers is showing confidence in his center.
"Corey's a smart guy. He's played a lot of center in his time, and he's going to be expected to play well. So we expect him to be able to keep up,'' Rodgers said per ESPN. "I've said it a lot, but he's got two incredible guards on both sides of him who are going to help him out with the calls and make sure that he's ready. But Corey is going to study hard, he's very well-coached, and he's going to be ready to go.''
As for Packers starting center J.C. Trotter, the team placed him on the injured reserve/designated to return list, according to the MJS. Trotter sustained a fracture in his left knee during preseason. His return would likely occur when the Packers play the Chicago Bears on Nov. 9, a game which follows the Packers' bye week.