No new positive COVID-19 tests for the Packers

A day after having to place tackle Jared Veldheer on the reserve/COVID-19 list due to him reportedly testing positive, the Green Bay Packers had no new positive tests.

“I slept pretty good last night,” coach Matt LaFleur said when asked how uneasy his night was as he waited to see whether more positive test results would follow Thursday morning. “Just really confident in our protocols and our approach and how we handle things around here.”

Veldheer just joined the team Tuesday after being added from the Indianapolis Colts practice squad. He practiced that day and went through meetings. However, it was determined that he was not considered a close contact with any other player, meaning no one else had to go on the reserve/COVID-19 list as a result.

When training camp started, he offensive line took over the normal media auditorium to use as its meeting room.

“It’s very, very spread out,” tackle Billy Turner said Thursday. “I don’t know if it’s even two people per row. You can’t get anywhere near the closest person to you without getting up and walking towards them. Thank goodness it is a giant room.”

Still, Veldheer did practice with the team and was in the facility. While no one tested positive as of Thursday morning, the testing will continue leading up to the game and into next week if the Packers move on in the playoffs.

“Some of the stuff is out of your control,” LaFleur said when asked if potential future positive tests were something he worried about. “One thing we talked about all season long is you’ve got to be ready to adjust, but until you know what you’re adjusting to it’s kind of hard to predict. I’m not going to focus on things I have no control over. We’re going to focus on playing the LA Rams. We’re going to focus on doing the best job that we can to prepare our guys to get ready to play. That’s where our sole focus lies.”

Turner echoed his coach’s sentiments.

“It’s an unfortunate situation for Jared but at the same time we’re moving forward as if we got all our players and everybody up and ready to play,” Turner said. “That’s what we’re thinking unless something else happens.”

Final injury report: Jared Goff to start at QB for Rams, Packers likely without Kingsley Keke

The Los Angeles Rams will be starting Jared Goff at quarterback on Saturday.

Coach Sean McVay said Thursday that John Wolford had been ruled out for the NFC Divisional Round game against Green Bay, meaning Goff will be under center. Alerted to the news while talking with reporters, Packers coach Matt LaFleur wasn’t overly surprised.

“I’d have to go talk to (defensive coordinator Mike) Pettine, but certainly I think we were pretty much preparing for Jared all week,” LaFleur told reporters. “It doesn’t change too much.”

Wolford suffered a neck injury early in last week’s game against Seattle. It forced Goff into action less than two weeks removed from thumb surgery. He threw for 155 yards and one touchdown but completed only 47.4% of his passes. Goff was seen throwing with gloves on earlier this week in practice, something to monitor as he plays in temperatures that are likely to dip below freezing for just the third time in his NFL career.

While Wolford is out, defensive tackle Aaron Donald is in. He’s battling a rib injury that knocked him from the game against the Seahawks. But he told reporters Wednesday he feels good and did not have an injury designation on the final injury report.

Two other starters, wide receiver Cooper Kupp and offensive lineman David Edwards, are listed as questionable.

For the Packers, defensive lineman Kingsley Keke (concussion) is listed as doubtful. Everyone else is expected to play.

Packers tackle Jared Veldheer reportedly tests positive for COVID-19

COVID-19 is impacting the Green Bay Packers as they prepare for their NFC Divisional Round playoff game against the Los Angeles Rams on Saturday.

A day after signing tackle Jared Veldheer off of the Indianapolis Colts practice squad, the team placed the veteran on the reserve/COVID-19 list after he reportedly tested positive. He will miss the game.

According to ESPN’s Rob Demovsky, the Packers appear to have avoided any issues with other players being considered close contacts. If the NFL had determined another player was in sustained close contact with Veldheer, they would also be put on the reserve/COVID-19 list and miss Saturday’s game.

The Packers must now hope the damage is limited to Veldheer, as testing will continue each day in advance of Saturday’s game.

The Packers had two players test positive earlier this season — running back AJ Dillon and linebacker Krys Barnes. Both missed multiple games, with Dillon missing more than a month. As a result of close contacts with those two, several other players missed time as well.

Packers healthy, Rams hurting heading into Saturday’s playoff game

The Green Bay Packers are healthier now than they’ve been for much of the season.

While the team has its share of important players on injured reserve, including tackle David Bakhtiari, the injury report issued Tuesday was among the shortest of the year. There were a total of seven players on the list, and only one, defensive lineman Kingsley Keke (concussion), didn’t practice at all. The rest, which included outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith, tackle Rick Wagner and wide receiver Allen Lazard, all took part on a limited basis.

The news was not as glowing for their opponent in Saturday’s NFC Divisional Round game. Los Angeles only held a walk-through on Tuesday, but had they practiced fully, a number of key players wouldn’t have taken part. That included quarterback John Wolford, wide receiver Cooper Kupp, guard David Edwards and defensive tackle Aaron Donald.

While the status of Wolford, Edwards and Kupp is a little murky, the Rams fully expect Donald to play despite leaving their win over Seattle in the first half with a rib injury. For their part, the Packers are expecting the same.

“He’s a freak. He’s as good as they get. “Like I said, he’s a once in a lifetime type player,” coach Matt LaFleur said. “I assume he’ll be ready to go and full speed ahead.”

Quarterback Jared Goff did take part in the walk-through and would have been a full participant if the team had practiced. Goff, the Rams normal starting quarter, was the backup against the Seahawks because he was less than two weeks removed from thumb surgery. When Wolford went down early, Goff came in and helped lead the Rams to the victory.

Veldheer officially back

Just days after starting at left tackle for Indianapolis in its loss to Buffalo in the playoffs, Jared Veldheer was on the practice field in a Packers uniform getting ready for Saturday’s playoff game against the Rams. Despite starting the last two games, the Colts never actually elevated him to their active roster, allowing Green Bay to swoop in and sign him off the practice squad.

Vehldeer was with the Packers at the end of last season, playing an important role in Week 17 against Detroit and then starting at right tackle against Seattle in the playoffs. He figures to be an insurance policy for Green Bay at either tackle spot behind Billy Turner on the left side and Wagner on the right.

“I think we’ve got to kind of just wait and see just how much recall he has from last year,” LaFleur said. “What’s interesting is he just played in a game this weekend with a totally different offense, so we’ll try to get him acclimated and welcome him back as quickly as possible. As far as what the expectations are, I think that remains to be seen.”

If he does play, Veldheer will be the first player in NFL history to see action with two teams in the playoffs in the same season.

Rodgers hosting Jeopardy!

It got out sooner than the Jeopardy! folks apparently wanted, but quarterback Aaron Rodgers will be guest hosting the show at some point during the offseason. Rodgers revealed that information during his normal Tuesday appearance on the Pat McAfee Show.

During his availability with reporters later in the day, Rodgers apologized to those that run the show for breaking the news, saying he was just too excited not to share it.

Rodgers was a contestant on “Celebrity Jeopardy!” in 2015, and ended up winning his episode by beating astronaut Mark Kelly and Shark Tank’s Kevin O’Leary. Longtime host Alex Trebek passed away in November.

Packers reportedly sign veteran OL Jared Veldheer

Green Bay has added some veteran offensive line help in advance of Saturday’s NFC Divisional Round game against Los Angeles.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Packers have signed tackle Jared Veldheer off of the Indianapolis Colts practice squad. Veldheer was actually called up by the Colts and started in their last two games, including their AFC Wild Card loss to Buffalo last Saturday.

The name should be a familiar one to Packers fans. The 33-year-old came out of retirement last season and joined Green Bay for the final stretch of the season. When Bryan Bulaga got sick and was unable to play against Seattle in the playoffs, Veldheer filled in and performed admirably in that victory.

Green Bay’s offensive line took a significant hit prior to Week 17 this year when left tackle David Bakhtiari went down with a torn ACL. It’s expected that Billy Turner, as he did in the finale against Chicago, will be the left tackle, while Rick Wagner will be the right tackle. However, Veldheer gives the Packers a veteran that can play both tackle spots.

According to Schefter, Veldheer would become the first player in NFL history to play for two different teams in the playoffs.

Packers to face Rams in NFC Divisional Round at Lambeau Field

It took until early Sunday night but the Green Bay Packers finally know who their opponent for the Divisional Round of the playoffs will be.

Thanks to its win over Seattle and New Orleans beating Chicago, the Los Angeles Rams will come to Lambeau Field on Saturday (3:35 p.m.) to face quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the Packers.

The Rams were powered largely by their defense this season as they went 10-6. That unit ranked No. 1 in the league in total yards allowed (281.9 ypg), passing yards allowed (190.7) and in points allowed (18.5 ppg) per game. Offensively, Los Angeles ranked 11th in total yards but 23rd in scoring (23.3 ppg).

Among the bigger storylines of the week will be the relationship between Packers coach Matt LaFleur and Rams coach Sean McVay. LaFleur served as the offensive coordinator under McVay in 2017. The two were also together for several years in Washington.

Perhaps the biggest question for the Rams is the health of several key players. Quarterback Jared Goff had surgery on a broken thumb after Week 16 and wasn’t expected to play against Seattle. But his replacement, John Wolford, was knocked out of the game early and Goff was forced into action. He completed just 47.4% of his passes and threw for only 155 yards.

One of Goff’s main targets, wide receiver Cooper Kupp, left the Seahawks game in the fourth quarter with a knee injury. The NFL Network reported that the injury wasn’t considered serious.

And then there is Aaron Donald. The defensive tackle is in the running for the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year award, but left Saturday’s game with a rib injury and did not return. The NFL Network reported that an X-ray didn’t show any broken ribs but there was an MRI planned for Sunday. The Rams said they are hopeful he’ll be able to play.

If Donald does play, his battles with All-Pro center Corey Linsley and the rest of the Packers offensive line will go a long way to determining the outcome. The same could be said for a potential one-on-one battle featuring All-Pro wide receiver Davante Adams going up against All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey.

This will be the second playoff matchup between the teams, though the other came in 2001 when the Rams were still in St. Louis. In that one, quarterback Brett Favre threw six interceptions and three were returned for touchdowns as Green Bay got blown out 45-17.

The most recent meeting of the two teams came in 2018 in Los Angeles. The Rams got a late field goal from Greg Zuerlein and stayed unbeaten with a 29-27 win.

Packers to issue 6,000 tickets for first playoff game

Lambeau Field will feel a little more lively next weekend.

The Packers announced Thursday they would welcome approximately 6,000 fans to their NFC Divisional Round game.

“Our players have enjoyed the energy provided by the limited fans we’ve had over the past four games. We’re looking forward to welcoming our Season Ticket Holders to add to that atmosphere in the playoffs,” said Packers President/CEO Mark Murphy. “We’ve seen our COVID-19 protocols in action and are confident we can safely add additional fans.”

The tickets will be made available for purchase to season ticket holders that opted in prior to the season. The price of the tickets will range from $127 to $177 based on location. Tickets can not be resold or transferred, and all tickets will be mobile.

In addition to the ticketed fans, the Packers will welcome invited frontline healthcare workers and first responders to the stadium.

Two former Packers named Pro Football HOF finalists

A pair of former Green Bay Packers defensive backs are among the finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The 15 modern-era finalists for 2021 were announced Tuesday and among them were safety Leroy Butler and cornerback Charles Woodson.

Woodson is a slam dunk pick in his first year of eligibility. In his 18 years in the NFL, including seven with the Packers, the former Michigan star was a 9-time Pro Bowl selection, 4-time All-Pro and the 2009 NFL Defensive Player of the Year. Woodson was the leader of a Green Bay defense that helped the Packers claim a fourth Super Bowl title in 2010.

Butler is a finalist for a second straight year. Widely considered one of the best safeties of his era, Butler is the only offensive or defensive player named to the NFL 1990s All-Decade Team that isn’t already enshrined in Canton. A second-round pick by the Packers in 1990, Butler was a 4-time Pro Bowl selection, 4-time All-Pro and was a part of Green Bay’s Super Bowl XXXI title team.

The other finalists are:
Jared Allen, DE
Ronde Barber, DB
Torry Holt, WR
Calvin Johnson, WR
John Lynch, FS
Peyton Manning, QB
Clay Matthews Jr., LB
Sam Mills, LB
Richard Seymour, DE/DT
Zach Thomas, LB
Reggie Wayne, WR

Packers 35, Bears 16: 2-minute drill

Green Bay used a strong fourth quarter to pull away from Chicago for a 35-16 win on Sunday to clinch the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs and a first-round bye.

Game Balls

Offense: Aaron Rodgers

Rodgers finished the season with another remarkable effort as he put his parting shot on a year that should bring him his third NFL Most Valuable Player award. The Packers quarterback hit on his first 11 passes, including three touchdowns. Then, with Green Bay leading just 21-16 early in the fourth quarter, Rodgers led a pair of scoring drives, hitting on eight of his last nine throws and another touchdown pass.

In posting a quarterback rating of 147.9 on Sunday, Rodgers finished the year with a rating of 121.5. It’s the second-best rating in NFL history and trails only Rodgers’ rating of 122.5 in 2011.

His season numbers are a sight to behold:

4,299 yards
70.7% completions
48 touchdowns (Franchise record)
51 total touchdowns (Franchise record)
5 interceptions

Wide receiver Davante Adams said it best afterwards: “MVP should be locked up.”

Defense: Krys Barnes

Barnes was in and out of the lineup with injuries, but he still finished with a team-high 14 tackles. The rookie inside linebacker was part of a unit that held Chicago’s run game in check. David Montgomery had gone over 100 yards in three of his last five games and averaged over 4.0 yards per carry in each. But against Barnes and the Packers, Montgomery was limited to 69 yards on 22 carries (3.1 ypc).

Green Bay’s defense has been big in its six-game winning streak, holding four opponents to 16 points or less. The Packers have amassed 20 sacks, while forcing seven turnovers in that time. That included a forced fumble and an interception on Sunday.

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In Case You Missed It

— Left tackle David Bakhtiari was lost to a season-ending knee injury in practice Thursday. With him unavailable, the Packers turned to Billy Turner to fill his spot. Lucas Patrick replaced Turner at right guard.

— With the win, Green Bay clinched the No. 1 seed in the NFC, home field advantage throughout the playoffs and a first-round bye. Despite the loss, the Bears clinched a playoff spot because Arizona lost to Los Angeles.

— Davante Adams caught six passes for 46 yards and a touchdown. In doing so, he broke Sterling Sharpe’s team record for catches in a season (115) and tied Sharpe’s record for touchdowns (18). Adams did so despite missing 2 1/2 games due to injury.

— Tight end Dominique Dafney caught the first touchdown of his career in the second quarter.

Inside the Numbers

17.2 — That’s how many points per game the Packers gave up over their last five games.

19 — That’s how many times the Packers have beaten the Bears in their last 22 games.

16 — That’s how many field goals Mason Crosby attempted and converted this season. He’s the first Packers kicker to make every kick he took.

2 — That’s how many catches Chicago’s Allen Robinson had. It was a season-low for the Bears’ top weapon.

11 — That’s how many touchdowns Green Bay’s Robert Tonyan had this season after catching one Sunday. That ties the team record for a tight end.

20 — That’s how many times Rodgers was sacked this season. That’s the lowest total in his starting career, including 2013 and 2017 when injuries limited the number of games he played.

What’s Next

Green Bay (13-3) will wait to see who it will face in the NFC Divisional Round. If seeding holds, Tom Brady and Tampa Bay would be coming to Lambeau Field. The Buccaneers handed the Packers one of their three losses this season.

Packers: LT David Bakhtiari reportedly suffers season-ending knee injury

The top scoring offense in the NFL reportedly took a huge hit Thursday.

According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, Green Bay Packers left tackle David Bakhtiari suffered a season-ending knee injury in practice.

Bakhtiari was named to the Pro Bowl earlier this month and is a two-time All-Pro. According to Pro Football Focus, he has allowed just one sack this season while playing 420 snaps.

Green Bay played three games without Bakhtiari earlier this year after he suffered a chest injury in a loss to Tampa Bay. In those three games, they went with Billy Turner at left tackle and had Rick Wagner at right tackle. That would seemingly be the direction the team would go on Sunday against Chicago, though Wagner is dealing with a knee injury himself that had him being limited in practice on Thursday.

Bakhtiari recently signed the richest contract for an offensive lineman in NFL history.