Each day since the start of camp, Mike Wahle has been on Clarke Hinkle Field watching his teammates practice and go through the grind of training camp. Although he's always had his jersey on, it was obvious he couldn't play because the rest of his uniform was nowhere to be found.
On Tuesday that changed.
Wahle joined his teammates like he always does, but this time he was in full gear and going full speed ahead in his first day back at practice. The 6-foot-6, 304-pound guard had been out all of training camp with a knee contusion, and is very happy to be back in the fold.
"It's just great being out here," Wahle said. "I've been out of commission for six or seven weeks so it's been tough. You grow up playing sports and being a competitor and when you have to sit out and watch the guys working on the sideline, it's difficult. Just being able to compete and take the first hit is a good feeling.
"It's one of those things where I wanted to come out today and put a good show on. I wanted to make sure that everything is fluid and I think everything was. I have to watch film, but I don't think I was favoring it. It felt good."
GM/Head Coach Sherman said Wahle looked good, too.
"He seemed like he was in the groove pretty good today," Sherman said. "I thought he had a good practice. I worked him out yesterday inside and fundamentally and strength-wise he looked excellent. I thought he demonstrated that out here today as well."
Offensive line coach Larry Beightol echoed Sherman's statements and said that Wahle looked as good as ever.
"Wahle looked outstanding, just like you would think," Beightol said. "It was like he hadn't missed a beat, like he had been practicing all along.
"Mike Wahle is a real fine football player. He's smart, he's aggressive, and he knows and understands this offense and how to play it. He uses good techniques and fundamentals. Overall, he performed well today."
If Wahle wanted to take it slow many people would understand. After all, he has been out for a significant amount of time, but now that he's back, don't expect Wahle to take it easy.
"I don't plan on taking any time off," Wahle said sternly. "I am going to keep going until they stop me. I have already taken enough time off."
Beightol: Offensive Line Will Overcome Injuries
Just as the Packers welcomed back one starter to their offensive line, they lost another one. Left tackle Chad Clifton missed Tuesday's practice with bursitis in his knee, but the injury isn't serious according to Sherman. He thinks some time off will benefit Clifton.
"Chad has a little bursitis on his knee, but he will be fine," Sherman said. "We're just going to rest it. He's practiced every day this preseason so taking a day or two off will help not only his bursitis, but also any other ails he has as a result of two-a-days.
Beightol said that injuries are tough to deal with, but believes his unit will be fine.
"I always get nervous and worried when players aren't out here practicing," Beightol explained. "Last year it was Chad and Tausch, and this year it is Wally and Iron Mike (Flanagan). You hate to see it when players aren't out here, but both players are very bright and have a wealth of experience.
"Wahle and Flanagan have attended every meeting and have worked hard on their rehab. They have been in the same system and playing for the same coach. So, they'll adjust."
Ferguson Sneaks Back
One player that refuses to admit he has an injury is wide receiver Robert Ferguson. The fourth-year player out of Texas A&M has been battling a hamstring injury for a week and missed practice until yesterday.
But don't blame Ferguson for not trying to get back on the field. Sherman said it's just the opposite with his former second-round pick.
"You can't really ease the guy back," Sherman said. "He snuck out here yesterday. I told him no pads and all of a sudden I look and he's out there with full pads on. I had to kick him out of the drill.
"If you had 53 guys like that, you'd be in great shape. He's a special guy; he's going to have a great year."
Hoping To Get A Leg Up
Monday, the Packers signed punter Bryan Barker, who most recently punted for the Washington Redskins. The 15-year veteran will compete with rookies B.J. Sander and Nathan Chapman for the punting job.
Barker said he stayed in shape this summer in case a team needed his services.
"I actually was preparing to play this year," Barker said. "I didn't know where it might be though. Historically, there always have been opportunities between the time training camp starts and when the season opens. That's all I was preparing for.
"I really haven't been monitoring what has been going on around the league. Anytime I go anywhere I hope that I have an opportunity. That is what I prepare for and that is what I hope to be ready for when I have it."
Barker and special teams coach John Bonamego worked together in Jacksonville for two seasons.
"I'm familiar with John and he's familiar with me," Barker said. "We worked together in Jacksonville and we had a lot of success down there. He's also had some success up here too, so it will work out well."
Sherman said that Sander will punt first against Jacksonville Friday. He also made it clear that he still believes in his third-round draft pick, but Barker may be able to fill a role as well.
"I think Sander is a good punter," Sherman explained. "I have a lot of confidence in him. He wants to do well and I think there is enough talent in him to get there.
"Barker can help Sander in how to play the position and also because of the fact that he's been in many, many games and he's had a good career. He's consistent and hopefully that is what he brings to us."