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Tight end Jace Sternberger, Green Bay's third-round pick in 2019, caught only 12 passes for 114 yards during his short tenure.

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GREEN BAY — Jace Sternberger was a boom-or-bust pick in the third round of the 2019 NFL draft. On Tuesday, the Green Bay Packers decided he was the latter and moved on by releasing the 25-year-old tight end after a pair of disappointing seasons.

Sternberger was coming off a two-game substance-abuse suspension, so the Packers had to decide whether to add him to the active roster or release him. Sternberger’s suspension ended following the Packers’ 35-17 win over the Detroit Lions on Monday night.

The team could decide to bring him back on the practice squad, given the NFL’s relaxed eligibility rules, but that appeared very unlikely on Tuesday. Sternberger, too, might be best served by starting over elsewhere.

“That’s always a tough decision whenever you have a competitive room like that,” Packers coach Matt LaFleur said. “It was one of those deals where we appreciate everything Jace has done.”

Unfortunately for the Packers, he didn’t do as much as a team would expect of a player of his draft status.

The Packers knew Sternberger, who started his college career at Kansas, where he redshirted one season and caught just one pass the next season, was thin college experience and were betting on his potential. He spent his third college season at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M, a junior college, before moving on to Texas A&M, where he caught 48 passes for 832 yards (17.3 yards per catch) and 10 touchdowns in his only season with the Aggies.

After the pick, Packers co-director of player personnel Jon-Eric Sullivan called Sternberger, who was one of the 30 players the Packers brought to Green Bay for an official pre-draft visit, a “late-bloomer” but raved about his potential.

Even though Sternberger was the sixth tight end taken, Sullivan made it clear that the Packers were high on him and that they didn’t rank Sternberger far lower than Iowa tight ends T.J. Hockenson and Noah Fant, both of whom went in the first round.“I don’t think there’s pressure for him to come in here and be Superman, but we definitely think he has the skill set to do that if needed. He’s got a very exciting skill set. He’s a guy that we feel like is an ascending player. We were really glad to get him. He was a riser at Texas A&M. He was a late bloomer, is what he was. Didn’t have much of a career at Kansas, moved on to junior college and then burst onto the scene (in 2018).”

Sternberger played in 18 regular-season games in Green Bay, catching 12 passes for 114 yards and a touchdown while playing just 262 regular-season offensive snaps. He caught three passes for 15 yards and a touchdown during the 2019 playoffs but was a healthy scratch during the postseason last year after being cleared from a late-season concussion.

The Packers clearly liked their other tight ends (Robert Tonyan, Marcedes Lewis, Josiah Deguara and Dominique Dafney) better than Sternberger, who needed a strong training camp to alter the depth chart. That didn’t happen, and it was a bad sign when tight ends coach Justin Outten was less than effusive in his praise for Sternberger following Sternberger’s 34-yard catch in the preseason opener against Houston.

“That one play doesn’t really describe the player,” Outten said. “It’s more consistently what you’re putting in day in and day out. With his consistency, it’s kind of been sporadic. Whether it’s still getting used to the playbook or feeling around the line of scrimmage, he’s still having some up-and-down days. With the extra reps that he’s getting, he’s got a handle it a little bit better in a sense of more video and doing the extra things outside.”Jones gets chain back

Early Tuesday morning, Packers head athletic trainer Bryan “Flea” Engel went through the end-zone grass at Lambeau Field and successfully tracked down running back Aaron Jones’ lost necklace pendant, which contained ashes from Jones’ late father, Alvin Sr. Jones wore the locket while scoring four touchdowns and believed he lost it during the second touchdown.

“It says a lot about Aaron Jones, but I think it also says a lot about ‘Flea’ and what kind of guy he is,” LaFleur said. “He means so much to us — both of those guys do — and obviously I think Aaron being in the stadium for the first time without his father, that was a pretty big deal. For him to go out there and perform and have four touchdowns, I think that was a pretty big moment for him.”

Extra points

LaFleur clarified Tuesday that he started second-year guard Jon Runyan at left guard instead of veteran Lucas Patrick against the Lions because Patrick was fresh out of the concussion protocol and scarcely practiced during the week. “Runyan practiced all week and we felt comfortable with him. We felt it was probably best for Lucas long-term as well to only use him if absolutely necessary, just to kind of let him rest another week,” LaFleur said, reiterating that the two will compete “on a week-to-week basis.” … LaFleur said defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery, who missed Monday night’s game after testing positive for COVID-19 despite being vaccinated, will “hopefully” be back to work this week.

This article originally ran on madison.com.

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