Rookie Vince Biegel upbeat despite starting Packers training camp on PUP list

Michael Cohen and Tom Silverstein
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
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Packers rookie linebacker Vince Biegel runs a drill during rookie camp in May.

GREEN BAY - The Green Bay Packers will have to wait and see what they have in former Wisconsin linebacker Vince Biegel.

Coach Mike McCarthy announced Thursday morning that Biegel would start training camp on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list. Biegel had surgery in May for a Jones fracture (fifth metatarsal) in his right foot.

"Vince is doing great," McCarthy said prior to Thursday's practice. "He’s been here every day. Both he and (cornerback) Demetri Goodson will start on PUP. Both those guys have been here every day that I’ve been in here, so, they’re making progress." 

Biegel is expected to miss “a couple weeks,” according to McCarthy, and likely will miss at least one exhibition game.

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Overall, McCarthy was encouraged by his team’s health coming out of the pre-training camp physicals Wednesday morning. Aside from Biegel, Goodson is the only other player on the PUP list to begin camp. Goodson tore his ACL against Washington in November.

“We’re relatively healthy,” McCarthy said. “We feel good.”

Biegel, a fourth-round pick, was expected to help fill the loss of pass rushers Julius Peppers and Datone Jones, both of whom left in free agency after combining to play 1,135 snaps last season. Without them, the Packers are equal parts thin and inexperienced behind starting outside linebackers Clay Matthews and Nick Perry.

Biegel found himself grouped with Kyler Fackrell, a third-round pick in 2016, and Jayrone Elliott, a core special teams player, as young pass rushers whose contributions — or lack thereof — will be very influential this season. Fackrell represents the coaches’ best hope for help thanks to his combination of height, length and speed.

“Obviously disappointed to start on the PUP, but that’s kind of to be expected,” Biegel said Thursday. “Just following the protocol and things that Green Bay is having me do, following the course of action, and I’ve been attacking my rehab this whole offseason.

"Stayed here in Green Bay this summer, did my workouts (and) all my rehab here, so everything is going very, very well. The foot feels great. I was able to go into (the Don Hutson Center) and cut on it, run on it. Just following the course of action, taking the time and listening to the trainers, listening to the doctors, doing what they tell me to do.”

The root of Biegel’s issue took hold last season in Madison when he suffered a broken foot. Biegel underwent surgery to have a screw inserted into the cracked bone and missed two games during his recovery.

That issue, according to Biegel, resurfaced during rookie orientation with the Packers in early May. He dropped out of the very first practice with a hand injury and, after returning in a cast the next day, began to feel discomfort in his right foot.

“It was a rookie minicamp thing,” Biegel said. “Obviously got that fixed up the right way and just kind of following orders and being able to get the foot right not just for this season but for the rest of my career moving forward."

Biegel said he is ahead of schedule in his recovery. He is involved in all of the meetings for team defense, outside linebackers and special teams, and the majority of his free time is dedicated to understanding the playbook.

“It's kind of similar to my story,” Matthews said. “I missed quite a bit of OTAs my first year and I think camp my first year I missed some time as well. But ultimately, it's just about staying in the playbook. I think the best thing you can do as a rookie is just be accountable. Who knows about expectations as far as what the people upstairs expect from certain players. But I think the biggest thing is when he's ready, when they clear him, is to be able to just jump in there seamlessly, which is easier said than done when you're not getting reps.”

Said Biegel: “I’m not necessarily going to put a timetable on myself. How much time I need to be ready — I’m a football player and I’ll be able to get back out there as soon as I can. Whenever I’m cleared is when I want to get on the field and get back rolling.”

McCarthy did not have any details about a timeline for Goodson, who has been seen running and cutting under the supervision of the medical staff.

In addition to Biegel and Goodson, undrafted rookie tight end Aaron Peck was placed on the non-football injury list because of a hamstring problem. Peck described the issue as a “small tweak” from his offseason training between the end of minicamp and the start of training camp. He expects to be cleared in the next few days.

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