Tackle Jared Veldheer, left, played for the Indianapolis Colts last weekend and was sent to the practice squad after the game. He has now been claimed by the Green Bay Packers and could be the first NFL player to play in a playoff game for two different teams in the same postseason. Zach Bolinger/Associated Press

Offensive tackle Jared Veldheer is back with the Green Bay Packers, giving him an opportunity to be the first player to compete in playoff games for different teams on back-to-back weekends.

Veldheer was with the Packers for Tuesday’s practice. The Packers (13-3) are hosting the Los Angeles Rams (11-6) in an NFC divisional playoff game Saturday.

The 33-year-old Veldheer was the Indianapolis Colts’ starting left tackle for their final two games, including a 27-24 AFC first-round playoff loss to the Buffalo Bills last weekend.

It’s an unusual opportunity “especially being away from the game the majority of the season,” he said. “When you’re sitting at home watching football week after week, you really get itchy to finally get to the Super Bowl and get a ring.”

Because the Colts merely elevated him from the practice squad for game day and didn’t officially sign him to their 53-man roster, the Packers were able to sign him this week. The Packers announced the signing Tuesday and made room for him by placing guard Simon Stepaniak on injured reserve.

Veldheer joined the Packers late last season and was their starting right tackle for a divisional playoff victory over the Seattle Seahawks when an illness left Bryan Bulaga unable to play in that game.

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

The addition of Veldheer gives the Packers more options as they try to replace All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari, who is out for the remainder of the season after injuring his knee during a Dec. 31 practice.

Green Bay replaced Bakhtiari for its regular-season finale by moving right tackle Billy Turner over to left tackle and starting Rick Wagner at right tackle. The rest of the line included Pro Bowl left guard Elgton Jenkins, All-Pro center Corey Linsley and right guard Lucas Patrick.

The Packers used that same starting five when Bakhtiari missed three games with broken ribs earlier this season. Wagner was battling a knee injury toward the end of the regular season, though he continued to play. The Packers’ injury report says Wagner was a limited practice participant Tuesday.

“You can never have enough players, and Jared’s a guy we definitely hold in high regard,” LaFleur said. “So it definitely adds depth to that room, which you can’t have enough of.”

BILLS: Buffalo reached an agreement to sign running back Devonta Freeman to its practice squad, the player’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, confirmed to The Associated Press on Tuesday after ESPN.com first reported the agreement.

Freeman is a seventh-year player who was released by the New York Giants last week. He joins Buffalo (14-3) after the Bills lost rookie running back Zack Moss to a season-ending ankle injury in a 27-24 wild-card playoff victory over Indianapolis last Saturday.

Freeman must first undergo the NFL’s COVID-19 protocols before being allowed to practice, making it unlikely he’ll be available for Buffalo’s divisional-round game against the Baltimore Ravens (12-5) on Saturday.

RAIDERS: The Las Vegas Raiders hired Gus Bradley as their new defensive coordinator with the task of turning around one of the league’s worst units.

Coach Jon Gruden decided to bring on the experienced Bradley to fill the role Paul Guenther had for the first two-plus seasons on his staff before being fired in December.

Bradley got his start in the NFL on Gruden’s staffs in Tampa Bay from 2006-08 before heading to Seattle, where he served as defensive coordinator for four seasons. He helped build a dominant defense for the Seahawks that went on to win the Super Bowl the year after he left for a head coaching job in Jacksonville.

Bradley struggled with the Jaguars, going 14-48 before getting fired late in his fourth season. He then returned to a defensive coordinator role the past four seasons with the Los Angeles Chargers.

He takes over a Raiders defense in need of major improvement. Since Gruden returned in 2018 with Guenther as his defensive coordinator, the Raiders allowed the most points in the NFL, had the fewest sacks, the second-fewest takeaways and allowed the second-most yards per play.

COLTS: Longtime left tackle Anthony Castonz announced his retirement Tuesday. The 32-year-old had been an anchor on Indy’s offensive line since he was the No. 22 overall draft pick in 2011.

His decision came three days after the Colts were eliminated from the playoffs with a 27-24 wild-card round loss at Buffalo and less than two weeks after he had season-ending ankle surgery. The move was not a complete surprise. Castonzo considered retiring last year, but eventually agreed to a two-year contract extension with the Colts. But this season, the Illinois native and Boston College alum missed four regular-season games and the playoff game with rib, knee and ankle injuries.

“As a kid, it was my dream to play in the NFL,” Castonzo said in a statement released by the team. “I played my first full season of tackle football in second grade. Now I have played my last. As I sit here now, after a 10-year NFL career, I am extremely proud of all the hard work and sacrifice that allowed me to evolve that dream into a goal, and ultimately into a reality unlike anything I could have even imagined.”

PACKERS: Quarterback Aaron Rodgers says he will be a guest host on “Jeopardy!” during the offseason.

The show is currently using a series of interim hosts to replace Alex Trebek, who died of cancer on Nov. 8. That process began when record-holding contestant Ken Jennings made his debut on an episode that aired Monday.

Rodgers was a winning “Celebrity Jeopardy!” contestant in 2015.

SEAHAWKS: The Seattle Seahawks have agreed to a contract extension with GM John Schneider that will keep him tied to the franchise through the 2027 draft.

• The Seattle Seahawks fired offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer following a season in which the team set several offensive records but cCoach Pete Carroll had clear issues with how the offense operated.

Seattle announced the move, citing “philosophical differences.” The Seahawks had the highest-scoring team in franchise history, Russell Wilson threw a career-high 40 touchdowns in the regular season, and wide receivers DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett both set club records for receiving.

Still, the Seahawks regressed offensively in the second half of the season, and Wilson and Carroll both made comments following Seattle’s 30-20 playoff loss to the Los Angeles Rams that indicated concerns with the lack of adjustments by the offense late in the season.

BENGALS: Quarterback Joe Burrow expects to start running on his surgically repaired left knee next month and is confident he’ll be ready to start the 2021 season.

“I’ve always been a fast healer,” Burrow said Tuesday in a Zoom session with reporters. “We’ll see how this goes when we get closer to the season, but I’m very confident I’ll be ready to go.”

The timetable is based on zero setbacks in the rigorous rehab of his knee. The rookie quarterback suffered torn ligaments in a Nov. 22 loss to Washington and had surgery in early December. He’s up and around now and was back in Cincinnati this week.

SALUTE TO SERVICE AWARD: New England Patriots long snapper Joe Cardona, San Francisco 49ers GM John Lynch,  and Atlanta Falcons executive Steve Cannon are finalists for the NFL Salute to Service Award.

Now in its 10th year, the award recognizes exceptional efforts to honor and support members of the military community. It will be presented Feb. 6, the night before the Super Bowl, at NFL Honors, when The Associated Press announces its individual NFL awards.

USAA, a provider of insurance and other services to U.S. military members, veterans and their families, will contribute $25,000 in the award recipient’s honor to the official aid societies representing all five military branches. The NFL will match USAA’s donation of $25,000, which will be donated to the award recipient’s military charity of choice.

THE U.S. SUPREME Court has thrown out the manslaughter conviction for the man who shot former New Orleans Saints star Will Smith to death in 2016.

Monday’s order in favor of Cardell Hayes had been expected. In December 2017, a jury convicted Hayes by a vote of 10-2 on charges of manslaughter and attempted manslaughter in the death of Smith and the wounding of Smith’s wife, who was struck in the leg by gunfire. But the Supreme Court has since ruled that such convictions must be unanimous.

A state appeals court gets the case next but, ultimately, it will be up to the new district attorney in New Orleans, Jason Williams, to decide whether to put Hayes, 33, on trial again. Hayes is serving a 25-year sentence.

The shootings followed arguments after a traffic crash. Hayes said he shot in self-defense. A state appeals court rejected that argument.

Surveillance video from the night of the shooting showed Smith’s Mercedes SUV possibly bumping Hayes’ Hummer, then driving off. Hayes followed them and rammed his vehicle into Smith’s. Both then got out and argued in the street.


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