GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - The Green Bay Packers held Rookie Minicamp on Friday at the Don Hutson Center. In attendance were 49 players: the eight draft picks from this year's draft, 20 tryout players plus undrafted free agent signings and plus holdovers from last year's roster.
Six of the Packers eight draft picks have already signed rookie contracts as of Friday including both first round draft picks, Rashan Gary and Darnell Savage.
Gary, a Michigan defensive end who will play outside linebacker with Packers wore a brace on his right shoulder in his no. 52 jersey.
The 12th overall pick said he started wearing the brace after he got hurt at Michigan
"I'm comfortable with it, wearing it. Me and the trainers decided just to wear it. I feel comfortable playing with it, so I'm rocking it," Gary said.
Gary is also comfortable learning the Packers defensive playbook without letting his learning disability stop him.
In seventh grade Gray was diagnosed with dyslexia.
"Before I just thought I was different than the others. I was just questioning myself. I couldn't read like others could read. I thought something was wrong with me. Me finding out that I had dyslexia was the best thing that ever happened to me because now I know the problem and I can fight to make things better," Gary said.
Gary will take over Clay Matthews’ position and number under defensive coordinator Mike Pettine. His explanation on why he decided to wear the no. 52.
“5 minus 2 equals 3. I wore 3 in college. Clay Matthews was a guy I used to watch his game a lot. I’m a bigger-type guy but just watching what he used to do. His passion for the game – I loved it. So when I saw that it was open I had to take it,” Gary said.
“They thought extremely highly of me. I just want to come in and show that it was worth it. I want to come in and do anything I can to contribute.”
3RD ROUND DRAFT PICK, JACE STERNBERGER SITS OUT
The only Packers draft pick to sit out of Friday’s practice was third round draft pick Jace Sternberger. Head Coach Matt LaFleur said he was dealing with an illness and that the plan is for Sternberger to practice on Saturday.
Gary isn’t the only Packers player will a historic number. Sternberger will wear the no. 87 when he gets onto the field, last worn by receiver Jordy Nelson.
"I grew up watching [Jordy Nelson] too so when they offered -- like we have that number available. I wasn't even trying to live up to his legacy by any means. It would be really cool experience. I feel like 87 is really cool for a tight end number nowadays because [Rob Gronkowski], Travis Kelce so Jordy did his thing. Hall of Famer so I'm not trying to overtake him by any means,” Sternberger said.
The third round pick said he talked to Packers veteran tight end Jimmy Graham on Thursday and is excited to learn from him.
“I feel like any kid who grew up watching sports like I grew up watching half of these guys in this locker room. You dream of doing what they do so it was like how could you not listen to everything they say and soak it up like a sponge," Sternberger said.
Sternberger has come a long way since becoming an NFL tight end. He started his college career at Kansas but only caught one pass for five yards. He then transferred to Northeastern Oklahoma A&M, a junior college where he started as a third stringer.
Then gained attention from FBS schools and chose to go to Texas A&M and became a consensus All-American.
"No one cares where you have been or what you've done. You are at a new place. You have to establish yourself. You have to prove yourself. I try to have that mindset everywhere that I've gone,” Sternberger said.
Wisconsin Badgers fans will remember running back Taiwan Deal. Deal was among the tryout players at Rookie Camp.
The Packers have three quarterbacks on the practice field on Friday, four if you include former Saginaw Valley State QB Matt LaFleur.
The former Division II quarterback threw some ball during individual drills and even joked, "I threw some good balls out there, man," LaFleur said.
The Packers will be back on the practice field on Saturday for the final day of Rookie Minicamp.