The Green Bay Packers announced on Wednesday that rookie tackle Caleb Jones has been activated off of the non-football illness list, which he had been on since Week 4. Jones contracted mononucleosis earlier in the season, which led to him missing north of two months of action.
Jones originally was signed to the Packers’ practice squad at the start of the season but was quickly signed to the active roster when it was clear that he was going to get poached by another team as offensive line injuries stacked up league-wide. Green Bay did not need to make a corresponding roster move to add Jones back to the active roster, as the team only had 52 players on their squad.
Three weeks ago, Jones was designated for return and was allowed to return to practice with the team. The three-week practice window ended today, meaning that the Packers made this decision at the last possible moment. It wasn’t always a given that Jones would return to the active roster, as Green Bay, earlier this year, also designated outside linebacker Tipa Galeai (hamstring) to return, allowed him to practice for three weeks, eventually chose not to activate him and allowed him to revert back to the injured reserve.
While Jones hasn’t played regular-season snaps for the Packers, he did have a solid preseason performance in which he was, at times, playing ahead of Rasheed Walker and Sean Rhyan, two 2022 draft picks. Listed at 6’9” and 370 pounds, Jones’ rare size must have Green Bay’s coaches and/or front office thinking about the long-term potential of his developmental curve.
As it stands today, the Packers have nine offensive linemen under contract for 2023, which doesn’t include right tackle Yosh Nijman. Nijman is a restricted free agent, who Green Bay will likely slap with a second-round tender in the offseason, which would bring that number up to ten linemen. Along with Jones, Walker and Rhyan, the Packers have two other rookie offensive linemen on the roster: fourth-round draft pick Zach Tom and Luke Tenuta, a Buffalo Bills draft choice who was picked up off of waivers earlier in 2022.
General manager Brian Gutekunst will have plenty of positions to address this offseason, but the offensive line is at the very bottom of the list. The Packers also signed two practice squad offensive linemen, Michal Menet and Jean Delance, on Tuesday of this week. In total, Green Bay will have 12 available offensive linemen in practice when they return to the field on Thursday.