Defensive end Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila said Wednesday he fully expects to be ready for training camp as he rehabilitates from offseason knee surgery.
Gbaja-Biamila underwent arthroscopic surgery on May 29 and has not participated in any of the team's OTAs or mini-camp.
"I have no doubt that I should be ready for training camp," Gbaja-Biamila said. "If this was the season I would be on the field doing some stuff, but we're not in any rush."
Gbaja-Biamila said he began to experience pain in the knee as he was working to strengthen his ankle from an injury suffered during the regular season at Detroit that forced him to miss Green Bay's game the next week at Dallas.
"I think it was just a wear-and-tear injury," Gbaja-Biamila said. "I was rehabbing my ankle from last year, and I just wanted to make sure it got strong. My knee kept flaring up. I noticed it more when I was trying to play with my kids and I couldn't bend down."
The team's all-time sacks leader has spent his time during OTAs and mini-camp focusing on rehabilitation, doing low-impact exercises in the pool as well as leg raises and some cardiovascular work on the Stairmaster. Gbaja-Biamila said he has tried to stay connected to the team during offseason practices by attending meetings.
"You kind of get a preview of what life is like without you," Gbaja-Biamila said. "They still have their meetings and they still do what they do. I've just been using this opportunity to get better resting and look at the more positive side of it."
Gbaja-Biamila, the elder statesman on the defensive line as he enters his ninth season, said he may take it slow once he gets back on the field in training camp but isn't expecting to take much time off in practice once the regular season arrives.
"I may in the beginning, but I try not to," Gbaja-Biamila said. "That's not my style. I get bored easily. I may be over talking to you guys (the media) or something. You know me; I've got to be doing something."
Coming off a 2007 season that saw him finish second on the team with 9.5 sacks (trailing only Aaron Kampman's 12.0), Gbaja-Biamila said he is approaching this season the same as every other since he has been a Packer.
"I expect I'm going to have a great year. I expect that we're going to build off of what we did last year as a team and individually, so I believe it's going to be a great year."
The offensive linemen regularly have had a fumble recovery drill as part of their practice routine, but this year the drill has a new look.
Offensive line coach James Campen takes a football and puts it underneath a bunch of blocking pads to simulate a "pile-up," and three or four linemen then dive into the pile to find the ball.
"We're just trying to get in the pile and get the ball, without too many bodies getting hurt, in the unlikely event that ball is on the ground we're going to get it," said Campen, who used the drill as a high school coach in California before beginning his pro coaching career in 2004. "And I emphasize unlikely, because we're not a turnover team."
That's certainly true, as the Packers lost only nine fumbles in 2007, down from 15 the prior year. Last year, the linemen's fumble recovery drill involved the "slide and shield" technique, where they would chase after a loose, rolling football and slide around it as they secured it to shield others from getting to it. It's a much more effective way to recovery a loose ball than trying to jump directly on it, when it can easily squirt away.
"We're doing this (new drill) to change it up a little bit," Campen said.
Starting center Scott Wells did not participate in Wednesday morning's practice after also sitting out Tuesday afternoon's workout.
Wells said he has been experiencing some tightness and soreness in his back and hip the past few weeks, but that it is not serious. He said he is getting the rest now so the issue doesn't linger, and expects to be ready for training camp.
With Wells and left tackle Chad Clifton (rest) not participating, the first offensive line during Wednesday's practice was Daryn Colledge at left tackle, Allen Barbre at left guard, Jason Spitz at center, Josh Sitton at right guard, and Mark Tauscher at right tackle.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers connected with tight end Tory Humphrey on a long seam route down the middle of the field during seven-on-seven drills.
On the final play of seven-on-seven work, quarterback Matt Flynn's pass intended for wide receiver Brett Swain in the back of the end zone was broken up by safety Charlie Peprah but fell into the arms of wide receiver Jake Allen for a touchdown.
Cornerback Charles Woodson made an impressive shoestring grab when he picked off Rodgers during team drills on a pass intended for tight end Donald Lee.
Wide receiver Greg Jennings made a juggling catch of a Rodgers throw with cornerback Jarrett Bush covering him in the corner of the end zone during a team portion of practice.
A break in the action
Head Coach Mike McCarthy canceled Wednesday afternoon's practice in favor of a team-building activity. The players and coaches spent the afternoon at Commando Paintball in Abrams, Wis., where they held an eight-team tournament.
After a little over two hours of paintball action, the seven surviving members of the winning team were running backs coach Edgar Bennett, minority coaching intern Ricky Brumfield, safety Tyrone Culver, fulback Korey Hall, defensive end Aaron Kampman, running back Vernand Morency and wide receiver Brett Swain.
The Packers' mini-camp will conclude with one more practice on Thursday morning at the Don Hutson Center.