GREEN BAY – Inexperienced Bay Packers tight finish Jace Sternberger has been suspended with out pay for the primary two video games of the 2021 common season for violating NFL coverage and program on substances of abuse, the league introduced Thursday.
Sternberger will miss the Packers’ regular-season opener Sept. 12 on the New Orleans Saints and residential opener in opposition to the Detroit Lions. He’s eligible to return for the Packers’ third sport Sept. 26 at San Francisco.
The 2019 third-round draft select of Texas A&M has had a sluggish begin to his Packers profession. After taking part in solely six video games in his rookie season, which he started on the bodily unable to carry out checklist, Sternberger caught his first landing go within the NFC championship sport at San Francisco.
The Packers hoped it could be a springboard into his second season. A yr in the past, it appeared simply as believable Sternberger could possibly be a breakout tight finish candidate as Robert Tonyan.
As a substitute, Sternberger caught simply 12 passes for 114 yards and one landing in 12 video games. His season resulted in late November due to a concussion, however Sternberger cleared protocol earlier than the postseason. He remained a wholesome scratch because the Packers promoted Dominique Dafney to the game-day roster over him.
Tonyan, in the meantime, grew to become that breakout star, tying Paul Coffman’s franchise report of 11 landing receptions from the tight finish place.
Sternberger entered this offseason watching a possible crossroads in his profession. He’ll have to earn his spot within the offense understanding a spot on the suspended checklist awaits him to start out the season (he might be allowed to take part in coaching camp practices and preseason video games).
One other arm
The Packers have signed quarterback Jake Dolegala, giving them 4 gamers on the place who could possibly be potential backups to Aaron Rodgers or present depth in case Rodgers stays away from coaching camp.
To create roster area, the Packers launched defensive lineman Anthony Rush.
Dolegala, a second-year participant out of Central Connecticut State who spent minicamp with Inexperienced Bay in a tryout foundation, initially signed with the Cincinnati Bengals as an undrafted free agent in Could 2019. The 6-foot-7 sign caller spent elements of final season on the New England Patriots’ follow squad.
Dolegala participated in Packers minicamp on a tryout foundation.
COVID considerations stay
Because the Packers look ahead to full-capacity stadiums this season after COVID-19 restricted attendance final yr, head coach Matt LaFleur remains to be working to make sure that the virus stays out of the locker room.
With the beginning of coaching camp roughly 5 weeks away, LaFleur estimates that Tier 1 (personnel with direct entry to gamers) and Tier 2 (personnel in shut proximity to gamers) teaching employees members are “fairly near 100%” vaccinated for COVID-19, whereas gamers are “not fairly there.”
“That is one thing that we’re gonna attempt to proceed to teach these guys on,” LaFleur mentioned. “We’re simply stating the information (primarily based on) what the protocols are from the Nationwide Soccer League and positively we’ll encourage all people, trigger I do assume that there is a bonus in the event you do get vaccinated.”
This offseason, LaFleur introduced in an outdoor educator to talk to the group in regards to the COVID-19 vaccine. LaFleur realized firsthand final yr how dropping a participant for COVID-19-related causes can affect the group, with gamers lacking time for both testing constructive or coming into shut contact with somebody who did.
Working again A.J. Dillon missed practically six weeks of the common season whereas recovering from COVID-19. Working again Jamaal Williams and inside linebacker Kamal Martin have been deemed Dillon’s shut contacts and missed a sport.
“There’s loads much less fear by way of the shut contacts, lacking video games (if gamers get absolutely vaccinated),” LaFleur mentioned. “I do know that impacts guys in a different way by way of whether or not or not they receives a commission and whatnot primarily based on their contracts.”
Tier 1 and Tier 2 employees members are “anticipated to be vaccinated” until they’ve a “bona fide medical or non secular floor” in opposition to doing so, in keeping with a memo obtained by the NFL Community.
Gamers aren’t required to be vaccinated. Nevertheless, the NFL labored with the NFL Gamers Affiliation to make drastic modifications to its COVID-19 protocols final month that allowed vaccinated gamers and employees to function on the group services as they usually would pre-pandemic. Unvaccinated gamers are nonetheless topic to every day testing, mask-wearing, bodily distancing, quarantining after publicity and different restrictions on the highway and within the facility.
“Strolling round with out a masks is unquestionably a free feeling,” LaFleur mentioned. “So we’re gonna encourage all the fellows to get the vaccine, however in the end it is their determination. You possibly can’t drive this upon anyone and every particular person has to make their most educated determination that matches their wants the perfect.
In keeping with the NFL Community, NFL chief medical officer Dr. Allen Sills advised groups in Could that gamers and employees who get the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine have to get their first shot this week to be absolutely vaccinated by the beginning of coaching camp. The NFL and NFLPA will proceed to barter protocols as coaching camp approaches.