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JC Tretter returns but might not have a job

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- If JC Tretter had been a first-round pick, he'd probably be labeled as a bust by now.

Two injuries in two years have prevented the Green Bay Packers' offensive lineman from even playing in an NFL game yet. Justin Harrell and Jamal Reynolds were practically run out of town for less.

But here was Tretter on Wednesday, just a fourth-round draft pick trying to get his career going again. He practiced for the first time since he sustained a fracture in his left knee during a preseason game nearly two months ago. He did not play at all last year as a rookie after he broke his ankle during an offseason practice.

He can't play in a game until Nov. 9 against the Chicago Bears, the first game for which he would be eligible to come off the injured reserve/designated to return list, but even then he might have a hard time seeing the field.

"It would be nice," Tretter said. "It's just careers go different ways, and there's been a few bumps in mine."

The Packers spent all offseason grooming Tretter to take over as the starting center. He had gained the confidence of the coaches and quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Now, the coaches and the quarterback have found the same level of trust in rookie Corey Linsley -- so much so that barring an injury there's little reason to think Linsley doesn't have a firm grasp on the job.

"I can't get my starting job back for at least the next three weeks, so I'm not really worrying about it or thinking about it," Tretter said. "I'm just going out there and playing football again. I'm just enjoying practicing again."

But where that leaves Tretter in the long run is unclear. He was drafted as a tackle coming out of Cornell in 2013 but the Packers thought he had the potential to play center, which he proved with a solid preseason until the injury.

Perhaps his future will be back at tackle, where the Packers have two free agents to be -- starting right tackle Bryan Bulaga and swing tackle Derek Sherrod.

"I've always been a team player and whatever the coaches want from you, that's what this job is," Tretter said. "I've just been focused on getting back and being healthy. Right now, there's really no need to worry about it. There's three weeks until any decision needs to be made about anything. So, right now it's just working hard, making sure everything stays healthy and then in three weeks we'll worry about what we need to worry about."