Offensive tackle Jared Veldheer was activated off the exempt/commissioner permission list Monday night for the first time since the Packers signed him off the waivers from the New England Patriots the day after Thanksgiving. The Packers also released backup offensive lineman Adam Pankey in a corresponding move to clear roster space.
The 32-year old Veldheer has made 113 career starts over nine NFL seasons but never once saw the field for the Patriots, deciding to retire from the game just 10 days after signing his one-year deal amid injury concerns. His position on retirement changed, though, once he found himself successful getting through his regular workouts, and he decided to test the market with no room available on the Patriots’ roster at the time.
Pankey, meanwhile, ends his current stint on the Packers’ active roster without playing in a game. The third-year lineman was activated in mid-September after starting left guard Lane Taylor was placed on the injured reserve list and would likely be a candidate to return to the practice squad if he clears the waivers.
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Where Does Veldheer Fit in?
Having started every game he has played in since Week 7 of his rookie year in 2010, Veldheer supplements the Packers’ ranks with both experience and ability, but he will likely work out of a rotational role behind Bryan Bulaga at right tackle.
Right now, backup Alex Light has a better rapport in terms of the Packers’ system, but he was regularly outmatched during his longest playing stretch of the season during Week 12’s loss to San Francisco. In his defense, he was playing against one of the best defensive lines in the league and frequently matched up against star rookie Nick Bosa.
Head coach Matt LaFleur and quarterback Aaron Rodgers both complimented Light on his relief duties in a 37-8 loss where very little went right, but the Packers still found value in shaking up their backup offensive linemen. Along with signing Veldheer, the Packers also promoted tackle Yosh Nijman from the practice squad and slotted both as third-stringers behind Light.
How Much Can Veldheer Help the Packers?
Smart money is on Veldheer getting limited usage in Week 15’s game against the Bears, but the addition was a bit of a no-brainer with the Packers struggling the way they had with their O-line depth. With the trade deadline long passed, players of his caliber and experience are rarely attainable this late in the season.
Still, Veldheer likely wouldn’t inherit a regular role unless one of the Packers starters went down with an injury. The Packers starting core has its issues but, by and large, is a group composed of the most talented linemen on the roster with Elgton Jenkins producing an All-Rookie type of season and Billy Turner sliding right in after joining the team in the offseason.
While their jobs might not be in immediate danger, though, the Packers offensive linemen were disappointed in themselves after Sunday’s too-close win over the Washington Redskins.
“It’s hard to win in this league, I can’t overstate that enough, but we just need to clean things up and be better,” Bulaga said in Sunday’s postgame. “We left a lot of yards, a lot of points, made that thing a lot more difficult on ourselves than we should’ve. And obviously, I’m happy we won. I’m not going to sit here and give the win away because, no, we want it, but we need to be better going into these next three games.”