The 12th overall pick in last week’s draft offered explanations for both. The Packers picked Gary with the highest selection they’ve had in 10 years, despite his history of a shoulder injury. The defensive end/outside linebacker was injured at Michigan last season, when he played in just nine games. The Packers’ medical staff, which cleared Gary during the pre-draft process, thought it would be best if he practiced Friday with a brace similar to what he wore after the injury last season.
“Yeah, when I got hurt at Michigan, I came back, and I wore the brace,” Gary said. “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 has disputed reports that he has a torn labrum. Whatever the injury, the Packers believe he can play through it this season. Gary pointed to the fact that he bench-pressed 26 reps at the combine as a sign that his shoulder is not an issue.
“I’ll probably get more into that with those guys as we move forward,” LaFleur said of Gary’s shoulder. “I think it’s just totally precautionary.”
There did not appear to be any limitations on Gary, though LaFleur put the rookies through only individual drills and 7-on-7 periods and said there will be no 11-on-11 work during this weekend’s rookie camp.
As for Gary’s number, which was worn by Clay Matthews for the past 10 seasons before he signed with the Rams in free agency this offseason, Gary said he requested 52. Earlier this week, Matthews tweeted, “The body’s not even cold yet lol” in response to a social media post by the Packers showing Gary in that number.
“Five minus 2 equals 3,” Gary said, explaining his choice of number. “I wore 3 in college. But Clay Matthews was a guy I used to watch his game a lot. I’m a bigger type of guy, but watching what he used to do, his passion for the game, man, I loved it. As soon as I saw it was open, I had to take it.”