The Green Bay Packers aren’t ruling out the return of center Corey Linsley for Sunday night’s showdown with the Tennessee Titans.
Linsley, who hurt his knee and has missed the last three games, was designated for return from injured reserve on Tuesday and practiced with the team.
Coach Matt LaFleur said the Packers plan to give Linsley the entire week to get ready to play.
“We’re going to work him through practice and just see how he feels, and we’ll make a determination towards the end of the week,” LaFleur said Wednesday.
Linsley originally injured his knee against the Chicago Bears on Nov. 29. The Packers moved left guard Elgton Jenkins to center and won all three games without him, but Linsley’s return would be a welcomed one for the Packers offensive line.
During the first 11 games, Linsley was the highest-graded center at Pro Football Focus. He didn’t get selected for the Pro Bowl, but the seven-year veteran is having his best season.
If Linsley can return, he’d allow Jenkins – a first-time Pro Bowler in 2020 – to move back to left guard. The Packers could then decide who plays on the right side between Lucas Patrick, Billy Turner and Rick Wagner.
LaFleur said the Packers want to see how Linsley responds to the workload at practice, and they’ll work different combinations of starting offensive linemen during practice to have backup plans in case Linsley isn’t ready.
“Anytime you have a guy coming off a long layoff like he’s had, you want to give them the week to work through because you’re out there practicing and you don’t know how someone’s body is going to react. We’ll let him work through. We will work different combinations throughout practice of different routes we could go, because at this moment we really don’t know.”
Third-year cornerback Josh Jackson has been a healthy scratch during two of the last three weeks. The reason? Special teams. LaFleur said considerations in the third phase have determined the pecking order at cornerback.
“It always comes back down to special teams,” LaFleur said. “When you’re talking about the last two spots in the secondary, you’re going to put the guys out there that can help you the most on teams. He’s got to make sure he continues to work in that area.”
The Packers have picked Ka’dar Hollman over Jackson as the fourth active cornerback behind Jaire Alexander, Kevin King and Chandon Sullivan recently.
Jackson was an important player for six straight weeks while King battled injury, but he hasn’t played a snap on defense since Week 10 against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Packers clearly trust Hollman, who has played nearly 40 percent of the special teams snaps this season, to handle the various roles within the third phase, such as being the gunner on coverage units.
“It changes on a weekly basis quite a bit. It’s all about matchups and how we get the people who are best prepared to perform in all phases, but especially special teams,” LaFleur said.