As roster moves have indicated, the Green Bay Packers have been exploring other options for their offensive line in recent weeks. That now includes working out a former first-round draft pick for a potential fit.
According to Adam Caplan of SiriusXM NFL Radio, the Packers brought in former San Francisco 49ers guard Joshua Garnett for a workout Tuesday on the same day they activated offensive tackle Jared Veldheer from the exempt/commissioner permission list.
The Niners drafted Garnett at No. 28 overall in the 2016 NFL Draft — one pick after the Packers selected current defensive lineman Kenny Clark — and started him 11 games at guard during his rookie season, but he missed the entire 2017 season with a knee injury and was unable to win back his starting job the following year. After he played just seven games as a backup in 2018, the Niners declined the fifth-year option on his contract to make him a 2020 free agent and, at the roster cutdown deadline, released him.
A 6-foot-5, 305-pound interior lineman, Garnett also reportedly worked out with the Detroit Lions last Friday and the Houston Texans back in mid-November.
The Packers (10-3) have undergone a few changes since their blowout road loss to the Niners, including adding Tyler Ervin as their new return specialist and promoting Yosh Nijman from the practice squad to supply the offensive line with some more depth. While their starting unit remains intact despite an injury scare with Bryan Bulaga, the Packers are clearly still open to seeing whether any available talent can boost their team as they move closer toward the postseason.
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Injuries Have Derailed Garnett’s Career
Garnett was among the best at his position for much of his younger years. He came out of high school as one of the nation’s top offensive guard prospects and played up to such a reputation during his four seasons at Stanford, finishing his senior year in 2015 as a consensus All-American for the Cardinal.
Things continued at a promising pace during his first season in the NFL after the Niners traded up in the draft to select him, but his health has struggled to hold up at the pro level. Garnett missed 25 of 32 regular-season games for the Niners after his rookie year, missing time with injuries to his knee, toe, thumb and finger that started to make him a liability.
Garnett’s situation looked grim entering training camp when he missed more time with another knee injury, but Niners coach Kyle Shanahan seemed encouraged about him after he played in the team’s preseason finale and said he was pleased with his performance. A vote of confidence, though, didn’t spare him from the final roster cuts.
Packers Think Veldheer Can Play Both Sides
Learning the system and getting in some practice reps have been the first steps for Veldheer in adjusting back to the NFL after spending most of this season retired. Now that he has his legs back under him, though, Packers coach Matt LaFleur said he has been impressed with what he has seen from their newest lineman.
LaFleur and the rest of his coaching staff also feel confident Veldheer could play on either the left or right side, depending on the Packers’ needs.
“I think he’s done a nice job since he’s been here,” LaFleur told reporters Wednesday. “He’s a smart guy and has picked it up quickly. I think (offensive line coach) Adam Stenavich and (assistant) Luke Butkus and the other guys in that room have done a great job with him, but he’s a veteran that’s got a lot of experience, so we feel pretty good about him.”