GREEN BAY – Months of patience and preparation finally culminated in Vince Biegel suiting up for his first official practice as a member of the Green Bay Packers on Wednesday.
The rookie fourth-round pick has been out since undergoing foot surgery following the Packers’ rookie orientation camp in May.
Unable to practice due to his rehab, Biegel was placed on the physically unable to perform list at the end of training camp, sidelining him for at least the first six games of the regular season.
While Biegel remains on the PUP list, the Packers opened a 21-day window to place the 6-foot-3, 246-pound linebacker on the active roster.
“It was good to finally be out there, being around with the Packers, flying around with other teammates and most importantly getting my first practice under my belt,” Biegel said. “Obviously, a long way to go. I still have a long way to knock off the rust. But it really did feel good to be out there and have a healthy practice under my belt.”
A native of Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., Biegel started 40 of the 54 games he played at the University of Wisconsin, finishing seventh in program history with 21½ sacks and 10th in tackles for a loss (39½). He also recorded 191 tackles (117) with three forced fumbles and two recoveries from 2013-16.
A lifelong Packers fan, Biegel was ecstatic when the Packers made him the first pick during the third day of the NFL Draft (108th overall), though that enthusiasm was tempered due to the foot injury.
His recovery forced Biegel to miss all the on-field work during organized team activities, minicamp and training camp. The only silver lining was it gave him a chance to closely follow Clay Matthews and Nick Perry in meetings and at practice.
“It was definitely frustrating having to sit out that time, but like I've told you guys before, everything happens for a reason, and that's the way I took it,” Biegel said. “You can have two ways of going about it, and I decided to attack it and be positive about it and be able to learn from guys like Clay and Nick, and be able to attack my playbook so that when I stepped on the field today, I was able to react fast and know what I'm doing mentally but continue to work on the physical part.”
The fact the Packers opened his three-week window during the first week Biegel was allowed to practice suggests he should play this season.
The Packers’ other player on the PUP list, cornerback Demetri Goodson (torn ACL), didn’t return to practice Wednesday. His three-week window will begin whenever he first practices, but it could be anytime. The old rule stipulating a PUP player must return to practice by Week 11 to be eligible to play this season was changed.
Biegel said he had no limitations at practice Wednesday. Linebacker Jake Ryan even joked with him during a special-teams drill during practice that he could tell he had “fresh legs” after not playing in the Packers’ first six games.
While Biegel feels great, the biggest hurdle for the rookie is working to catch up on missed practice time.
“I think that's a coaches' decision, whether they want to take the full three weeks with me or what have you,” Biegel said. “I'm mentally preparing to play this week. Now if they decide to activate me this week, that's an upstairs decision. I'm going to continue to prepare like I have been these last six weeks.
“Whether that's this week or whether that’s after the bye week on ‘Monday Night Football’ with Detroit, I'll be ready for that moment.”