Packers hoping for best after tackle Jared Veldheer tests positive for COVID-19
GREEN BAY - Two days after adding tackle Jared Veldheer to their 53-man roster, the Green Bay Packers are holding their breath he doesn’t subtract from it.
The 33-year-old Veldheer, signed off Indianapolis’ practice squad a week after coming out of retirement and starting at left tackle for the Colts in a wild-card playoff game, was absent from practice Wednesday.
It turns out he tested positive for COVID-19.
A source confirmed an ESPN report that he had registered a positive test and the NFL transaction wire showed the Packers later placed him on the reserve/COVID-19 list. The league does not say whether a player on the list tested positive or was deemed to be in close contact with someone who tested positive and needed to be quarantined.
The Packers have done extremely well with protecting their players from an outbreak despite living in what was once the county with the highest positive rate in the state. Only two players – inside linebacker Krys Barnes and running backAJ Dillon – have tested positive since training camp practices began.
Veldheer had been tested daily during his week with the Colts and had to pass a test before being allowed into the Packers facility Monday, according to a source. He would have also been tested Tuesday and Wednesday.
The source said Veldheer’s first positive test showed up Wednesday morning, which means he would have been infected when he was swabbed Tuesday morning. Players are swabbed every morning, but their test results don’t come back until around 6 a.m. the next day.
So, the Packers didn’t find out about his positive test until Wednesday morning.
Veldheer did practice with the team Tuesday, the day his positive test was taken, and so he was on the field and in the classroom with other players. The Packers require masks and social distancing throughout their facility, but the practice field is one time the players are all together.
Practicing or playing with someone who has COVID-19 doesn't necessarily mean someone else will become infected. Both Barnes and Dillon registered a positive test the day after games, which means they were positive on gameday and played that day. There were no other positives as a result of their infections.
As soon as the Packers receive a positive test, they conduct contact tracing to see if the player had been in close contact with anyone else in the organization. Players must wear electronic tracers that measure whether they’ve been within 6 feet of others for more than a few minutes at any time during the day.
The source said the Packers deemed that there were no players who had close contact with Veldheer, which was why they were able to practice Wednesday and did not have to go into COVID-19 protocols.
The fact the Packers did not place anyone else on the reserve/COVID-19 list Wednesday would indicate that they did not find anyone who was in close contact with him.
Veldheer will be out for the Packers’ playoff game against the Los Angeles Rams, but not necessarily out for the entire postseason. It all depends on whether he is symptomatic and how quickly he tests negative again.
The Packers will be able to activate a player from the practice squad to replace Veldheer on the game-day roster, but they won’t have a true backup tackle with any experience behind starters Billy Turner and Rick Wagner.