It would be easy to look at the two penalties committed by Corey Linsley and opine that the rookie center had a poor game against the Rams. It would also be a mistake. While the two miscues – one of which was debatable – shouldn’t be overlooked, neither should the other 39 snaps he played on Saturday. Just like he did for two seasons and 26 starts at Ohio State, the undersized Linsley used his intelligence, strength and competitiveness to put forth a winning effort.
After carefully reviewing the game, I determined that Linsley’s 41 snaps – even with the two costly penalties – were slightly more effective than JC Tretter’s 24 snaps. Linsley generated greater movement in the run game and he provided a stronger anchor in pass protection. However, when factoring in the penalties and especially the level of competition, I had to give Tretter credit for the better overall performance. Because lets face it, keeping a No. 1 pick (Aaron Donald) from creating havoc in the backfield is a lot more impressive than winning battles against someone named Matt Conrath.
Regardless of who played better, the most important thing is that both youngsters played well for a second consecutive week. Does that validate the decision not to re-sign veteran Evan Dietrich Smith? Ted Thompson, Mike McCarthy and James Campen won’t know the answer to that question until September, but at least they already know that the professional game isn’t too big for either the Ivy Leaguer or the rookie. And that’s all any GM, head coach or assistant can ask for in the middle of August.