GREEN BAY – Reggie Wells’ first visit to Green Bay was in March 2006. His second was last Tuesday.
Both times, the Green Bay Packers were in dire need of offensive line help. This time, they got their man.
Wells, who was a restricted free agent from the Arizona Cardinals the first time around, might not be the same player today as he was then. He’s bounced around since, first being traded from the Cardinals to the Philadelphia Eagles in 2010, then being cut by the Eagles and cut twice by the Carolina Panthers before the Packers signed him on Wednesday.
But given the state of the Packers’ offensive line depth, Wells fills an important need: He’s a proven, versatile veteran with 91 career starts at a variety of spots (79 at left guard, 10 at right tackle and two at left tackle).
“(I’m) excited. I came in some years ago when I was a restricted free agent and really enjoyed my trip. Still knew some of the coaches and things like that,” Wells said in the locker room Saturday morning. “I’m just excited to get back at it and excited to have another opportunity.”
Taken in the sixth round (177th overall) of the 2003 NFL Draft by the Cardinals out of Clarion University, Wells was dealt to the Eagles on Sept. 3, 2010 for a sixth round draft pick. He saw action in eight games (one start) and re-signed with the team in August 2011, only to be cut on the final roster reduction. He latched on with the Panthers after that and spent two stints in Carolina, signing on Sept. 13, 2011, being cut on Sept. 20, re-signing on Oct. 19 and being cut again on Nov. 30.
Wells said he planned on playing this season and simply waited for his phone to ring with an opportunity. Entering his 10th NFL season, he wasn’t ready to call it a career just yet, although he did go home to Pittsburgh to help his father, Reggie Wells Sr., coach the South Park High School girls basketball team. Reggie Wells Sr. was a basketball star at Clarion and played basketball professionally in both the Continental Basketball Association and overseas in Argentina. and also spent time in the Detroit Pistons' rookie camp in 1982 before joining the Pennsylvania State Police.
“I never was in the retirement mode, so to speak,” said Wells, who signed with the Packers and traveled to San Diego with them but did not see action in Thursday night’s preseason-opening loss to the Chargers. “(I was) just working out and staying active, and preparing myself.
“There were other teams that called before this. 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.”
Wells said the Packers haven’t talked to him about where he might play on the line. Evan Dietrich-Smith is the primary backup at all three interior line positions, but the backup tackle options are thin behind right tackle Bryan Bulaga and left tackle Marshall Newhouse, who missed the exhibition opener with a concussion suffered during the Family Night Scrimmage. With Newhouse out and 2011 first-round pick Derek Sherrod (leg) yet to be cleared to practice, the Packers started journeyman Herb Taylor at left tackle against the Chargers, and he struggled.
“I really don’t know, to be honest with you,” Wells said of where he may line up. “I know they have some injuries in some spots and guys who are out for whatever reason. 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.
“I haven’t really gone over where I’m going to be at. It’s just a matter of getting the plays down and getting ready to go for the next game.”
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