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Gbaja-Biamila rehabs knee, says he'll be ready for camp

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Green Bay Packers defensive end Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila hasn't had much experience with surgery, and it's probably just as well.

There was that time in high school, when he had his wisdom teeth removed under partial anesthesia.

"I wasn't completely out," Gbaja-Biamila said. "I was just somewhat out. I remember I urinated on myself."

Beg your pardon?

"That was too much information, wasn't it?" Gbaja-Biamila said.

Years: 8

G/GS: 117/73

Tackles: 277

Sacks: 74

Yeah, probably.

Since then, Gbaja-Biamila says he has managed to avoid the surgeon's knife through four years at San Diego State and eight NFL seasons -- until now.

Gbaja-Biamila had knee surgery this offseason, forcing him to miss the Packers' voluntary practices and this week's mandatory minicamp. But not to worry: The veteran pass rusher says he'll be ready to go for training camp.

"I have no doubt that I should be ready for training camp," Gbaja-Biamila said. "If this was the season, I'd probably be out there trying to get back on the field. I'd be on the field actually doing some stuff. But we're not in any rush. We've got time on our side."

Not practicing with his teammates is a strange feeling for Gbaja-Biamila, who described it as a preview of what it's like to be dead.

"I kind of feel it's a prelude of when you're done, when you're retired, like being dead without being dead," Gbaja-Biamila said. "So I kind of feel like I'm out of the loop a little bit there. But I'm just going to try to stay connected and go to team meetings and things of that nature and still rehab."

Gbaja-Biamila began the offseason doing exercises to strengthen an ankle that bothered him last season, but that made his knee flare up. After examining his knee, Gbaja-Biamila said team doctors told him he had a torn meniscus, and there would be no guarantee the injury wouldn't keep flaring up unless he had surgery.

Gbaja-Biamila doesn't believe there was one single incident that caused the injury, chalking it up to wear and tear. He had the surgery and now is rehabbing, doing low-impact exercises such as climbing on a StairMaster and running in a swimming pool.

"I've just been using this opportunity to get rested, trying to look at the more positive side of it," Gbaja-Biamila said. "I've been in the league eight years, going into my ninth season, so maybe I'm not out there getting my body as beat up. I wish I didn't have to get (surgery) to get the rest and everything."

Once doctors clear Gbaja-Biamila to return, he doesn't expect to sit out selected practices to rest -- something Packers coach Mike McCarthy has done with several veterans who are nursing chronic injuries.

"Maybe in the beginning, but I try not to," Gbaja-Biamila said. "That's not my style. That would be hard for me, because I get bored easily. I've got to do something. I may be over talking to you guys (the media) or something. You know me, I've got to be doing something."

Gbaja-Biamila expects to return to the same role he had last year -- a situational pass rusher instead of an every-down defensive end.

"I expect the same role," Gbaja-Biamila said. "I haven't heard anything different. I don't know how that all works out. You never know with injuries and how the season ends up, but I expect the same type of role that I had last year. I think they were really pleased with my performance, and I was pretty effective, I believe. You look at how many snaps I got compared to the results."

Gbaja-Biamila never complained publicly about his reduced role last season, relying on his religious faith -- something Gbaja-Biamila wears with fierce pride on his jersey sleeve -- to make a difficult adjustment.

"I always just believed that God was in control of everything and if God wanted me to start, I'd be starting," Gbaja-Biamila said. "It's not that I don't want to be a starter, I just take it as, what can I do? What do they want me to do? Be faithful with it."

Reminded that other players in similar situations don't always react so calmly, Gbaja-Biamila hinted that the move bothered him more than he let on last year.

"Trust me, I felt the way most people (would have) felt, but when you have God in you, you answer totally different," he said.

Gbaja-Biamila was the first player to talk openly about the possibility of the Packers making the Super Bowl last year -- something that drew funny looks at the time but didn't turn out to be too far off.

This time around, Gbaja-Biamila is withholding any predictions because he hasn't been at practice.

"I'm not probably the best one to talk to about that because I have been kind of out of the loop," he said. "It's like somebody coming from the military and they come back home and (you) say, 'What's your house life like?' Well, I've been overseas for six months. I don't know what's going on."

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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