When the Green Bay Packers selected Wisconsin Badgers linebacker Vince Biegel in the 2017 NFL Draft, it seemed to be serendipity. The team had passed over his college teammate, T.J. Watt, in round one, trading back four spots and adding the 108th selection — the first pick in round four and the first pick of day three of the draft. When it came time to announce that pick, it was Biegel who heard his name called, and the native of Wisconsin Rapids was headed to his hometown team.
Just a week later, after the Packers’ rookie minicamp, Biegel was faced with the first adversity of his short NFL career. The team determined that he needed another surgery on the foot that he had injured as a senior, which kept him out of OTAs and minicamp and which has prevented him from being cleared to practice to this day, the eve of the Packers’ third preseason game.
On Friday, Biegel sat down with Jason Wilde and Mark Tauscher of ESPN Wisconsin to discuss his recovery, and he confirmed that as far as the bones of his foot go, everything is fully healed structurally. He then explained the final goal of his rehab before being cleared: “The biggest thing is being able to get the ‘pop’ back in the foot,” Biegel said.
What exactly does that ‘pop’ refer to? “It’s being able to take not just my body weight but the body weight of an NFL offensive lineman,” Biegel explained. As a 246-pound outside linebacker, Biegel will likely be facing offensive tackles more than 50 pounds heavier than him. Therefore, the strain on the muscles and tendons of the foot will need to be able to hold up under the stress of pushing off and engaging with those linemen.
Biegel, who currently remains on the Physically Unable to Perform list, is not dwelling on the possibility that he might start the regular season on the PUP and missing the first six games. “Whatever the process is, I’m not worried about it,” he said. “When I take the field for the Green Bay Packers, I want to make sure I’m 110% ready to go. (The trainers) have a great course of action for me to get back on the field.”
Biegel carries a similar approach to his future as a whole and tries to put his early injury issues into perspective. “I started my career with a challenge, but I’m going to do everything in my physical power to make my career a success,” he said. “I got drafted to contribute and to be able to bring that positive impact into the locker room and be that positive guy on the field.”
That positive attitude has been a quality of Biegel’s that he has brought to the Packers’ practice field long before he was suiting up in the Green and Gold, however. As a Wisconsin native, he would regularly attend Packers practice in the stands and even watched some of his new teammates when he was young. He even offered up a story about one of his favorite practice memories:
When I was younger, I remember being able to be up against those fences. I remember Aaron Rodgers (in) his rookie year when he was drafted. Aaron would sign (everybody’s items) and Brett Favre kind of took the cart back ...
(One day) I said to him ‘Aaron, one day you’re going to be better than Brett Favre.’ I was in like 3rd or 4th grade at that time and now to be able to be in the same locker room as Aaron Rodgers, that’s what it’s all about.
Biegel will not say when he expects to be cleared — “it’s part of the process”, he said — but he is clearly optimistic that he will pass that final hurdle soon. Packers fans everywhere should be hoping for the same.