GREEN BAY, Wis. — Reggie Wells almost joined the Packers in 2006. Six years later, the now-31-year-old offensive lineman is no longer in his prime but will help with an area of Green Bay’s roster that has been thinned out due to several injuries.
“I came in some years ago when I was a restricted free agent and really enjoyed my trip,” Wells said Saturday inside the Packers’ locker room. “I still knew some of the coaches and things like that. I’m just excited to get back at it and excited to have another opportunity.”
Back in 2006, Wells was with the Arizona Cardinals and had been their starter at left guard the previous two seasons. But in 2011, Wells was out of the NFL throughout the final month of the season after being cut for a second time by the Carolina Panthers in late November.
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However, despite not getting signed prior to training camp, Wells remained “pretty confident” that some NFL team would call with a contract offer sooner or later.
“I never was in the retirement mode, so to speak,” said Wells, a 6-foot-4, 318-pounder. “I was just working out, staying active and preparing myself. It was just a matter of trying to find the best opportunity from there. It wasn’t about waiting for an injury or anything like that. It’s really just wait and see what exactly is going on.”
In Green Bay, Wells will add veteran depth to a team that has very little of it along the offensive line. Starting left tackle Marshall Newhouse is recovering from a concussion, 2011 first-round pick Derek Sherrod is still not cleared from a broken leg he suffered last season, backup guard Ray Dominguez has been out with an ankle injury, and undrafted rookie tackle Mike McCabe was placed on injured reserve after hurting his hip during training camp.
The injuries at left tackle to Newhouse and Sherrod created a situation where 27-year-old journeyman Herb Taylor had to step in for the Packers’ preseason opener Thursday and protect the blind side of MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers. The result of that experiment had Rodgers getting crushed from behind on a pass attempt that wound up as an interception.
Wells, in his 10th NFL season after being drafted in the sixth round in 2003 by the Cardinals, has mostly played left guard throughout his career, starting 79 games at that position. He has also previously started 10 games at right tackle and two games at left tackle.
“I’ve kind of have been all over the place in my career,” Wells said. “Guard, obviously, is where I spent the most time at. I had some significant time at tackle and emergency center in some cases, as well. I came into the league as a left tackle.
“It’s just a matter of getting in the spot and getting comfortable and stable with it.”
But at the moment, Wells isn’t sure where coach Mike McCarthy will have him line up with the Packers.
“I know they have some injuries in some spots and guys who are out for whatever reason,” Wells said. “We really haven’t gone over exactly where they’re going to have me, but I think my versatility is what’s really going to help me and they’ll decide where (to put me) from there.
“It’s just a matter of getting the plays down and getting ready to go for the next game.”