GREEN BAY — Two days after returning to the Green Bay Packers and positioning himself to become the first player in NFL history to play for two different teams in the same postseason, veteran offensive tackle Jared Veldheer landed on the reserve/COVID-19 list after reportedly testing positive for the coronavirus.
Veldheer, who spent the past two weeks with the Indianapolis Colts and started for them at left tackle in their AFC Wild Card playoff loss to Buffalo last Saturday, was signed to provide offensive line insurance for the Packers, who will face the Los Angeles Rams in an NFC Divisional playoff game this Saturday at Lambeau Field without five-time All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari. Bakhtiari suffered a season-ending torn ACL in his knee just days before the team’s Jan. 3 regular-season finale at Chicago.
A league source said the Colts are dealing with an outbreak of COVID-19 on their team in the wake of their loss to the Bills.
The source also said the Packers had not had any players deemed to be high-risk close contacts, perhaps because the offensive linemen have met all season in the spacious Lambeau Field media auditorium, where press conferences are normally held. That large space allows the linemen to meet without being in close proximity to each other.
Since the season began, the only two Packers players to test positive for COVID-19 were rookie running back AJ Dillon and rookie inside linebacker Krys Barnes, both of whom have returned to action. When Dillon tested positive on Nov. 1, inside linebacker Kamal Martin (Dillon’s roommate) and veteran running back Jamaal Williams were deemed high-risk close contacts and they missed the team’s Nov. 5 win at San Francisco. When Barnes tested positive, the only high-risk close contact was rookie No. 3 quarterback Jordan Love, Barnes’ roommate.
After the Colts lost on Saturday, Veldheer, who had been a game-day call-up from the practice squad, became available and Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst signed him to back up replacement left tackle Billy Turner and right tackle Rick Wagner.
Veldheer would have been tested Monday in Indianapolis before getting the call from the Packers. He then drove from Indianapolis to Green Bay and practiced with the team and was in meetings on Tuesday. But he was not at practice Wednesday and was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list later in the day.
“It’s kind of crazy that he was playing in a game for another team what was it, three or four days ago?” center Corey Linsley said on Tuesday, before learning of Veldheer’s positive test. “It’s a wild year, man. It’s pretty crazy.”
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