Packers open rookie camp with King, Biegel ready to go
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) Kevin King likes to think of himself as an easygoing guy. Still, the Packers' top draft pick had to admit that his first official day as an NFL player brought out the nerves.
"I actually forgot it was my birthday," said the 22-year-old King, a second-round choice out of Washington who was the first of the Packers' 10 draft picks last weekend. "I was running around the field and one of the guys said, `'Hey, Kevin, happy birthday!' And I'm like, `Oh yeah, thank you.'"
King was one of 58 players taking part in the two-day rookie camp that started Friday. That includes 15 undrafted free agents, 24 tryout players and nine players who are either holdovers from last year's practice squad or are considered first-year players.
The primary goal of the weekend is to get the young players acclimated to the NFL and the draft-and-develop Packers team that will be counting on them to contribute when the season begins Sept. 10 against Seattle.
Coach Mike McCarthy, who is entering his 12th season, tweaked the program a few years ago, cutting out the third day of practice in favor of a more educational approach that allows players to ease into the program before they start practicing with the veteran players later this month.
"Really these two days - and I probably say this each and every year standing here - it's a joy," McCarthy said. "The energy that these guys bring to the table is remarkable. It's something I've always appreciated. ... It's not going to be smooth. I mean, it's never smooth. I think that's why they call it a transition. It's a process. It's really why we're here."
On Thursday night, McCarthy ended the team meeting with a video presentation that highlights the Packers' rich history. The film closed with the rookie players' headshots - taken by the team photographer earlier in the day - interspersed with those of past legends like Bart Starr, Ray Nitschke, Brett Favre and present stars like Aaron Rodgers, Jordy Nelson and Clay Matthews.
"That's a neat moment and that's kind of a threshold where we're making it loud and clear the opportunity that these guys have," McCarthy said.
One player who didn't necessarily need the history lesson was linebacker Vince Biegel, a fourth-round pick from Wisconsin who grew up about two hours away in Wisconsin Rapids, played for the Badgers and was the first rookie to report to camp because he was the only one within driving distance.
"It's the next step in the journey," said Biegel, who arrived to find his locker sandwiched between that of Matthews and Nick Perry, the Packers' leader in sacks last season (11) who returned on a five-year, $60 million contract in March. "I was fortunate enough to land with a great organization here in the Green Bay Packers, (where) I think there's a lot of people I can learn from. So, it's exciting."
Biegel left Friday's practice after he injured his left hand while jamming a tight end at the line of scrimmage during a drill. Biegel underwent x-rays after practice and expressed hope that he'll be cleared to take part in Saturday's final workout.
"It's not a season-ending injury by any means," Biegel said. "This is a finger here. My whole body is ready to go. This is football. You get nicks and bruises."
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Updated May 5, 2017