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After hiatus, former Washington State OL Cole Madison returns to Green Bay Packers

UPDATED: Mon., April 8, 2019, 8:58 p.m.

Washington State offensive lineman Cole Madison runs a drill during the NFL football scouting combine, Friday, March 2, 2018, in Indianapolis. (Darron Cummings / AP)
Washington State offensive lineman Cole Madison runs a drill during the NFL football scouting combine, Friday, March 2, 2018, in Indianapolis. (Darron Cummings / AP)

Cole Madison is resuming his career in the National Football League after spending a year away from the game for undisclosed reasons.

The former Washington State offensive lineman was reinstated to Green Bay’s roster on Monday for the beginning of the Packers’ offseason training program, ESPN’s Field Yates first reported.

Madison, a native of Burien, Washington, was picked in the fifth round of the 2018 NFL Draft, with the 138th overall choice, and took part in offseason workouts, but did not report to training camp for what the Packers cited as “personal reasons.” Madison spent his rookie season on the team’s “did not report” list.

The Packers nor Madison ever specified what issue kept him out of football, but in February The Athletic reported his absence had stemmed from the “emotional distress” Madison suffered after former Washington State quarterback Tyler Hilinski took his life in an off-campus apartment last January.

“The death of Tyler is in his head,” a source told The Athletic. “I don’t think he’s coming back. At least he’s not showing signs of it right now.”

Hilinski and Madison grew to be close friends during their time in Pullman and Hilinski once told The Spokesman-Review Madison was “like a good older brother to me.”

“Cole is very good at doing his job and that’s one of our team mottos,” Hilinski said in an interview on Aug. 27, 2017. “Be the best at doing your job, be the most excited to play. I just try to be like him because he’s not only a great guy, but a helluva football player, too.”

Green Bay drafted Madison just three months after Hilinski’s death, hoping the WSU right tackle could help the Packers’ patchwork offensive line better protect franchise quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

But The Athletic spoke to four separate sources who all said Madison was effected by Hilinski’s suicide and news that the QB had been suffering from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a disease often contracted by football players frequently involved in head-to-head collisions.

Madison was a fixture of WSU’s offensive front for four years in Pullman, starting 39 consecutive games at right tackle and earning All-Pac-12 honors each of his final three seasons with the Cougars.

He returned to Pullman to take in WSU’s upset win over Oregon last season, the same day the school hosted ESPN’s College GameDay for the first time.

Vaeao signs with Panthers

Ex-Cougars defensive lineman Destiny Vaeao has signed a one-year deal with the Carolina Panthers, the organization announced Monday.

Vaeao, a 6-4, 300-pound defensive tackle, has bounced around the NFL since signing with the Philadelphia Eagles as an undrafted free agent in 2016. He recorded 27 tackles and one sack with the Eagles from 2016-18 and won a Super Bowl with the club in 2017.

After being injured and waived by Philadelphia last October, Vaeao signed with the New York Jets and spent time on both the active roster and practice squad, but didn’t make any game appearances.

“I’m just here to do whatever it takes to help the team win,” Vaeao told Panthers.com. “It’s a blessing to be here and be a part of this organization. It’s been kind of tough, but it’s all a part of the process. I just have to focus on what I need to do and keep working.”

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