GREEN BAY — In the end, Bashaud Breeland’s travels took him to a place where he considered calling home in March: Lambeau Field.
The veteran cornerback officially joined the Green Bay Packers on Wednesday, one day after working out for the team and more than six months after the Packers had expressed interest in him as an unrestricted free agent.
“I’m here now,” Breeland said after his first practice with the team, in advance of Sunday’s game against the Buffalo Bills. “Everything happens for a reason. I don’t really regret what happened. I feel like it was meant to bring me here.”
Signed because of Kevin King’s lingering groin injury and Davon House’s season-ending shoulder injury, Breeland considered the Packers in free agency in the spring but opted instead for a three-year, $24 million deal with the Carolina Panthers, having grown up in South Carolina and played collegiately at Clemson.
But then his deal with the Panthers was voided because of an injury he suffered while vacationing in the Dominican Republic two weeks before free agency opened, when a golf cart struck his foot and reopened a wound for which Breeland had had a skin graft as a child. The wound became infected, and Breeland wound up unemployed while it healed.
“It was a frustrating process — to come out with a deal and for it to be taken back. I just wanted to get on a team, reset the market, get back to playing ball, doing what I’m accustomed to doing,” Breeland said. “It was a freak accident. (The doctors) said I had an infection — but not a major infection. I don’t really see how that got out there like it was infected like I was losing my foot or something.”
Asked if the Packers were fortunate to get a player of Breeland’s quality at this point in the year because of the injury, coach Mike McCarthy replied: “I think he’s an excellent addition, especially at this point in the season. Timing (wise), we’re fortunate. I know the personnel department was excited after his workout. I’m glad he’s part of our football team.”
Breeland said he felt the foot has been 100 percent for the past few months but that teams still had reservations. Since then, he estimated he visited at least 13 of the NFL’s 32 teams, then got the call from the Packers on Monday. Breeland said he’s not worried about getting up to speed with the Packers playbook, having been through various defensive schemes during his time with Washington. He admitted he doesn’t know how much he’ll play Sunday.
“I feel like I’m at a point to come here and prove that I’m still that player that I was last year,” Breeland said. “It’s hard not being out there playing on first team or playing every down like I’m accustomed to, but at this point, I have to adapt to the situation, and I’m going to grow as best I can and do everything I can to get on the field as quick as possible.”
Going with what they’ve got
While the Packers moved quickly to add Breeland, they apparently will stand pat on the defensive line in the wake of defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson’s season-ending ankle injury Sunday. The team had Quinton Dial, who was on the roster last season, in for a workout Tuesday but didn’t immediately sign him, and McCarthy said Wednesday the plan is to give Dean Lowry and Montravius Adams more playing time.
“I feel good about the group we have,” McCarthy said. “That’s really the focus. As far as what we do moving forward, that’s really for another day.”
Tight end Jimmy Graham did not practice because of a knee injury, though it’s unclear how serious it is. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers (knee), outside linebacker Nick Perry (concussion) and King also did not practice.
Rodgers might not practice today, either, and might be limited to Saturday’s practice for the third straight week.
“It is difficult and different for me to not be out there,” Rodgers said. “I’m one who always loves being out there because you’re not just competing but you’re working on things with the guys and working on the game plan especially on days like Wednesday and Thursday. So that’s been obviously a struggle for me. But I’ve been putting a lot of good work in with our training staff. That’s how I’m able to play.”
McCarthy said Perry remains in the concussion protocol.
“Hopefully he’ll continue to make progress and he’ll be good to go,” McCarthy said.