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Rookie Vince Biegel still could help Packers' defense -- just not yet

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Vince Biegel isn’t trying to make up for five missed months in just a couple of practices, and the Green Bay Packers don’t appear inclined to throw their 2017 fourth-round pick into action right away.

Biegel returned to practice this week -- the earliest possible time for a player on the physically unable to perform list. It was the first time he put on a helmet and pads since he underwent foot surgery in May.

The Packers hope the outside linebacker from Wisconsin can help them at some point this season, but don’t expect it to be this week against the New Orleans Saints. Biegel could practice for three weeks before the Packers have to either activate him off PUP and add him to the roster or place him on injured reserve.

"I think that's a coaches' decision, whether they want to take the full three weeks with me," Biegel said. "I'm mentally preparing to play this week. Now if they decide to activate me this week, that's an upstairs decision. I'm going to continue to prepare like I have been these last six weeks. And over the six weeks I've been preparing to play against the Saints. Whether that's this week or whether that after the bye week on Monday Night Football with Detroit, I'll be ready for that moment."

Coach Mike McCarthy didn’t sound inclined to throw Biegel into the mix this week.

“I think you have to look at the whole thing, the type of injury, what he’s gone through and what he’s done to this point,” McCarthy said Thursday. “I think it’s important to get on the field and practice and evaluate that, not only how he does in the football structure but how his body reacts through the first couple of weeks. I think it’s a normal process that all these guys go through when they first get on the field."

Vince Biegel (45) practiced in pads for the first time in his NFL career. He remains on PUP but the fourth-round pick's recovery from May foot surgery appears to be complete.

Rob Demovsky, ESPN Staff Writer

Before this week, Biegel had yet to practice with the full squad. He worked during the rookie camp in May before he experienced an issue with his right foot -- the same foot that needed surgery last fall during his senior year with the Badgers.

“Obviously, a long way to go,” Biegel said. “I still have a long way to knock off the rust. But it really did feel good to be out there and have a healthy practice under my belt."

The Packers picked Biegel at No. 108 overall -- the first pick of the fourth round. It was a selection they acquired from the Browns when the Packers traded their first-round pick (No. 29 overall) to Cleveland. Many thought the Packers would use their first-round pick on Biegel’s former college teammate, outside linebacker T.J. Watt, who ended up going one spot later to the Steelers. Watt has played in five of six games this season and has 3.0 sacks.

In bypassing Watt and trading their first-round pick, the Packers were able to get two players: cornerback Kevin King at No. 33 (with the second-round pick acquired from Cleveland) and Biegel. Only King has been able to make an impact this season, but Biegel is holding out hope that will change.

“That's why they drafted me, to be an impact player, to make plays for this team,” Biegel said. “That's the expectations I have for myself and that's what I plan on doing moving forward. Obviously, I haven't played football in six-plus months here, so being able to go out there, move around, work on some of my handwork and being able to knock off some of that rust is what it's all about. It might not be this week, but I know as practice goes along I'm going to continue to get better and better as time goes on. I definitely have a long way to go, but I'm excited for that."