GREEN BAY — Ibraheim Campbell’s first stint in Green Bay was shorter than he would have liked.
Now that he’s got a second chance, the veteran safety plans on running with it.
The Packers signed Campbell on Thursday, bringing him back to the team after he featured in three games last season before going down with a torn ACL. He made his first training camp appearance with Green Bay on Saturday.
“I felt like I left a great impression with these guys, and they were persuaded enough to give me another opportunity,” Campbell said. “That’s what I have, and I want to make the most of it.”
The 2015 fourth-round draft pick started 2018 on Houston’s roster, but was waived prior to the regular season. The Cowboys claimed him, and he went on to play four games for Dallas before being cut and signed by the Jets. His tenure in New York was even shorter, lasting just one game before being waived in early November.
That’s when the Packers stepped in, claiming Campbell off waivers and putting him to work in their system. He played in three games for Green Bay — including one start — and made an immediate impact, forcing a fumble and wrapping up 20 tackles. It was a much-needed boost to the secondary following the trade of longtime starter Ha Ha Clinton-Dix to Washington.
But Campbell was placed on the injured reserve following Week 13’s loss to Arizona and became a free agent in the offseason.
With most of the safeties currently on the roster having fewer than three years of experience in the league, the Packers saw a chance to add depth and experience to the group by bringing Campbell back this summer.
“He played in (the system) last year, so he knows the scheme,” Packers head coach Matt LaFleur said. “What I watched from last year, I thought he did a nice job. So it’s good to have another veteran safety around.”
Being an experienced defensive back who knows what it takes to cut it in the NFL was one of the things that really sold the Packers on re-signing Campbell.
“He’s a consummate professional,” Green Bay defensive backs coach Jason Simmons said Friday. “The thing about him is he’s a veteran guy that’s been around. He doesn’t take anything for granted for the simple fact that he’s been on multiple teams. He realizes the opportunity, and he looks to seize it every time he gets the chance.”
Trying to seize this year’s opportunity is a bit trickier as Campbell tries to work his way back from his ACL injury. He said his recovery has been moving at a good pace as he approaches his ninth month of rehab, but he doesn’t want to rush anything either.
“Right now I’d say I’m waiting on science,” he said. “The longer I wait (to get back to full speed) at this point, the lower the statistical rate of a re-tear. So that’s kind of where I’m at right now.”
But spending time in the meeting rooms and out on the field getting his legs under him is a good first step. The familiarity with the team and defensive coordinator Mike Pettine’s schemes has helped Campbell not fall behind.
“This is a complicated game, and a lot of times you can get caught over-complicating things. (Pettine) is a great coach and he has a great system, and it was familiar stepping back into it,” Campbell said. “I felt like I did well because of that.”
As of Saturday, the Packers had nine safeties on their training camp roster. That number will almost certainly be trimmed down when it comes time to form a 53-man roster for the regular season.
Campbell’s working to make sure his name is among those 53, and for more than just three games this time around.
“I just try to make sure that when I step on the field that I’m as tip-top as can be,” he said. “That’s what I’ve been working on and am continuing to work on.”
Other notables making a return from injury at Saturday’s practice were running back Aaron Jones and cornerback Josh Jackson.