Getty Head coach Matt LaFleur of the Green Bay Packers stands on the sideline during the first half against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on December 13, 2020 in Detroit, Michigan.
As it turns out, Jared Veldheer will not be making NFL history this weekend.
The Green Bay Packers placed Veldheer on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Wednesday afternoon in a move that ESPN’s Field Yates reported was the result of a positive test. The announcement comes just one day after the Packers officially signed him off of the Indianapolis Colts’ practice squad, hoping he would add depth to a thin tackle position that lost its top starter.
The Packers have placed recently signed OT Jared Veldheer on the COVID-19 list as a result of a positive test.
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) January 13, 2021
Veldheer would have become the first in NFL history to play for two different teams in a single postseason if he had played in Saturday’s divisional-round game against the Los Angeles Rams. He also played in the wild-card round as the Colts’ starting left tackle, but had been elevated from the practice squad rather than signed to the active roster — thus, allowing other teams to sign him away. The Packers were also able to get Veldheer on the field immediately due to his participation in the Colts’ COVID-19 testing program.
According to Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, a source told him Veldheer tested negative on Monday before entering the Packers’ facilities, meaning his positive test would have come from Tuesday morning’s round of testing. Veldheer then went on to attend team meetings and participate in practice for the remainder of Tuesday; though, he was notably absent from Wednesday’s session.
On the plus side, ESPN’s Rob Demovsky noted the Packers made it through contact tracing without needing to put anyone else on the COVID-19 list with Veldheer, but that doesn’t mean they are completely in the clear. The daily test results between now and Saturday will be essential in determining whether the Packers lose more players.
Practicing with someone who has COVID-19 doesn’t necessarily mean someone else will become infected. #Packers RB AJ Dillon tested positive after Minn. game, which means he took positive test on gameday and played that day. There were no other positives as a result.
— Tom Silverstein (@TomSilverstein) January 13, 2021
The Packers now have an opening on their 53-man roster heading into the weekend and can be expected to address it in some capacity, most likely through a practice-squad promotion given the short notice. They do not, however, have any practice-squad tackles.
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Wagner’s Health Becomes Paramount vs. Rams
The Packers gained about two days of comfort at the tackle position before Veldheer’s positive test pulled the rug out from underneath them. His familiarity with Green Bay’s system made him an ideal swing tackle and an excellent insurance policy in case starting right tackle Rick Wagner, who is battling a knee injury, or any other starter had to be held back with an injury.
Now, the Packers will have to hope Wagner is able to tough it out against the Rams or risk having to shake up the rotation yet again in a do-or-die moment of the year. The good news is he was a limited participant in both Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s practice sessions, the same as he was throughout Week 17 before playing every snap against the Chicago Bears. Wagner has also had the benefit of the bye week to rest up since then.
The Packers do have options for reassembling their offensive line as well if Wagner is unable to play, including moving left guard Elgton Jenkins out a tackle spot. He made a spot start for Billy Turner at right tackle in the team’s season opener, but Turner’s versatility opens the door for either of them to fill in on either side depending on the coaching staff’s preference. In such a case, Jon Runyan Jr. or Ben Braden would assume the leftover guard spot.
While it would be a long shot, the Packers could also technically roll with their only other option at tackle, Yosh Nijman, for Saturday’s game, but that seems unlikely given he has played just 14 total offensive snaps in his entire career.
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