When the Green Bay Packers made several roster moves last week, they were aiming to address the depleted depth of their offensive line unit.
Now, Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst is hoping to beef up special teams.
The Packers claimed former Jacksonville Jaguars kick returner Tyler Ervin off the waivers Monday afternoon, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, in a move was reported before the team announced later in the day it had released current return man Tremon Smith.
The moves signal another change at a position that has been a weakness all season long for the Packers, ending Smith’s ineffectual tenure with just four punt returns for a total of zero yards. Green Bay is the only team in the NFL averaging negative yardage on punt returns (-0.9) and ranks tied for 30th in kickoff return yardage (19.5).
Ervin, who averages 8.3 yards on 61 career punt returns, is expected to fill Smith’s opening on the active roster, but his addition has not yet been officially announced by the team.
The Packers might soon make another roster move to clear room for new offensive lineman Jared Veldheer, who was claimed last week off the waivers from the New England Patriots after he was released off the reserve/retired list. The roster move was announced, but 10-year veteran tackle remains on the exempt/commissioner permission list.
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Will Ervin Help Solve Return Woes?
The Packers have tried out a number of different options in their return game this season, but none of the candidates — including both Trevor Davis (traded to Oakland) and Darrius Shepherd (demoted to practice squad) — have turned out an adequate amount of production. Will Ervin finally be the answer to their problems?
Well, it depends on what you’re expecting. Ervin isn’t about to become the next Devin Hester, but the bar is set relatively low when you consider how few of the essential needs are currently being met in the return game.
Ervin’s hands will need to prove themselves after some costly fumbles in his career, but he does have 14 catches for 91 yards to support his case. It won’t be too difficult to outdo Smith, either, after his longest return went for just three yards.
Will Veldheer Be Ready to Play Against Redskins?
Veldheer spoke with media and met his new teammates last week prior to the Packers’ Week 13 road win over the New York Giants, but there is no official word on when he’ll be joining the active roster. And, with injured starter Bryan Bulaga missing no time, there isn’t a huge rush with him on the exempt list.
It seems unlikely Veldheer, who had been retired since May, will be ready to suit up Sunday when the Washington Redskins (3-9) come to Lambeau Field, but the veteran tackle sure sounded ready to play last Friday.
“I had continued to do my workouts that I had been doing throughout my career and found myself in pretty good shape in December and body was feeling good and wanted to get back to ball,” Veldheer told reporters.