GREEN BAY - Vince Biegel needed to only look around the training facility at Proactive Sports Performance to see how far he’s come over the last 10 months.
In the heart of his first NFL offseason, the current Packers linebacker and native of Wisconsin Rapids spent the month of March training alongside Clay Matthews, David Bakhtiari, Kenny Clark and Aaron Rodgers at the Los Angeles-based performance center.
A month earlier, Biegel rounded out his offseason training at EXOS in San Diego, building the sweat equity he missed out on last summer when a pair of foot surgeries sidelined him for the Packers’ entire offseason program and training camp.
A fourth-round pick out of Wisconsin, Biegel spent the first seven games of the regular season on the physically unable to perform list. He eventually was cleared and activated to the 53-man roster Nov. 3, but in reality, he was a rookie six months behind in his development.
“It’s hard to play catch-up halfway through the season, missing all of those reps, not being able to partake in a lot of things and recovering from an injury,” Biegel said.
“To be able to have a full, healthy body and being able to attack this offseason, that kind of started at the end of the season. Being able to go out the California and train with all the guys in this locker room and come back with the right mindset was awesome for me and I think it’s going to pay off this season.”
Reps weren’t in short supply this offseason. Injuries to Matthews (knee surgery) and Nick Perry (foot) opened up first-team snaps to Biegel and several other pass-rushers competing for spots in the Packers’ rotation at outside linebacker.
Green Bay returns four players - Biegel, Kyler Fackrell, Chris Odom and Reggie Gilbert - with NFL experience in addition to adding rookie Kendall Donnerson in the seventh round of this year’s NFL Draft.
With a locker located feet away from Matthews, Biegel hasn’t been shy about picking the brain of his offseason training partner, who also was in attendance for a majority of the offseason program.
While there’s no making up for lost time, Biegel feels the extra reps in new coordinator Mike Pettine’s defense will make a difference for him entering his first on-field training camp.
“To come in here, get all the reps, and be able to get into the action, and obviously getting into Coach Pettine’s new scheme has been huge for me,” Biegel said. “It’s built a lot of confidence and I know it’s going to pay off as we approach training camp and the rest of the season.”
Biegel is thankful for the 259 combined snaps he received in nine games split between defense and special teams during his rookie season. His six coverage tackles were second-most on special teams to only safety Marwin Evans, who had 14 in 16 contests.
That experience helped Biegel build a foundation to make the transition from the Big Ten to the NFC North. While he was once again able to train his body this offseason, Biegel has been right where he needs to be mentally since he got to Green Bay.
“Biegel comes prepared every single day, to play hard every single day,” associate head coach/linebackers coach Winston Moss said. “That’s Vince Biegel.”
Biegel didn’t have any grandiose plans for the month between the end of minicamp and the start of training camp on July 26 other than popping down to Madison to work out at his alma mater for a week. The rest of his time has been spent training - and welcoming a new dog to his family - in the Green Bay area.
Before being dismissed for the summer, Biegel feels one exercise that crystalized everything for him was sitting down with Pettine and Moss to chart out his goals for the upcoming season.
While Biegel is keeping those aspirations to himself, the 6-foot-3, 246-pound linebacker is energized about how he fits into Pettine’s defense and eager to show what he can do when healthy.
“I set the standard and the bar high for myself and I shoot for the stars,” Biegel said. “That’s the way I’ve always been whether it’s at Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin, and I’m going to do the same here. Always have the right mindset in being able to attack every single day.”