With Bryan Bulaga out sick, Jared Veldheer stepped up

Darin Gantt
ProFootball Talk on NBC Sports

The flu bug that swept through the Packers locker room last week was a bad one. So when backup tackle Jared Veldheer heard that Bryan Bulaga had come down with it, he knew he had to prepare.

“That thing is awful,” Veldheer said of the illness, via Ryan Wood of the Green Bay Press-Gazette. “I know what it’s like on that thing. Like, he can’t function. So I got it through my head pretty quick that I had to be ready for this ballgame.”

The Packers brought Veldheer out of retirement late in the season, but he only played in the regular season finale. Sunday against the Seahawks, he played every snap, and the Packers were glad to have a guy with 120 career starts to turn to.

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“He’s an established veteran,” left tackle David Bakhtiari said, “who’s played a lot of football in this league. Everyone is looking at him like a backup, but he was a starter in this league. He’s played a decade. He’s seen a lot of ball, he’s been in these tough situations. For him, it’s just kind of getting back on the saddle and going. . . .

“I was very proud of him. I told him it’s one thing to fill in and let us run our offense, but to excel in our offense and let us run it at a high level is another thing. And I just told him I appreciate it.”

Bulaga was active, but was only going to be able to play in case of emergency. He tried moving around in pregame warm-ups, but it was clear he wasn’t himself.

Having an experienced backup helped make the decision to park him easier, and Veldheer held up well in his first extended action of the year.

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