"I'm looking very forward to Monday night," the former University of Tennessee standout said after Thursday morning's practice. "I'm looking forward to playing against somebody else. There's a defensive lineman at Seattle who I went to college with that I'm looking forward to going against. I'm looking forward to hopefully getting some reps against him."
How he performs against Seattle's Rashad Moore, a 6-foot-3, 325 pounder entering his second NFL season, may go a long way toward determining of Wells makes the opening day roster. With returning starters Mike Flanagan, Mike Wahle, Marco Rivera, Mark Tauscher and Chad Clifton assured roster spots, and reserves Grey Ruegamer, Kevin Barry and Steve Morley likely sure things as well, Wells may be fighting to be the last of the nine linemen the Packers will take into the Sept. 13 opener at Carolina.
Time is growing critical for Wells, not that he doesn't realize it. He suffered a bout of tendinitis in his left biceps during the Monday night practice and was forced to watch Tuesday from the sideline. He was back on the field Wednesday and Thursday, though, as he fights to make the team.
"I'm doing good. It's still a little tender but that's part of football," Wells said. "You just have to push through the pain, and as long as it's functioning, it's OK."
In other words, no pain, no gain.
"In the situation I'm in, I have to be out here every rep I can possibly get," Wells said. "Time not practicing is a dangerous time, so I'm trying to stay out here as much possible, participate in everything I can, and do my best to contribute to the team."
At 6-foot-2 and 300 pounds, Wells is a big guy. But for the interior battles, Wells is a lightweight. No matter, however. With a 30 on the Wonderlic test, Wells is no mental midget. And with a stellar high school wrestling career, Wells knows leverage trumps size every time.
"(Wrestling) translates 100 percent, as far as understanding body leverage and body positioning," Wells, who was a CNN-Sports Illustrated high school all-American wrestler while at Brentwood (Tenn.) Academy, explained.
"It allows you to scramble out of a lot of situations that guys that don't have a wrestling background or a martial-arts background can't do. It's helped out tremendously as far as minor techniques, like getting your hands back inside, working your hips, falling correctly. A lot of people take that for granted, but if you know how to fall on a pile correctly, you can do that usually without getting hurt."
Wells started the final 49 games of his college career at Tennessee, one of the top college programs in the nation. With his smarts, quick feet and explosive athleticism — he can bench press 545 pounds and has a vertical leap of 30 inches — size wasn't a factor at Tennessee and he doesn't figure it will stop him in the NFL, either.
"To me, at my position, I think size is overrated sometimes," Wells said. "I think it's better to have a shorter center. First of all, it's hard to move a nose guard when you're that close. When you're shorter, it helps you get better leverage. Most nose guards aren't huge, as far as height. They're huge as far as width and weight but they're not real tall. I think if you're a comparable size, that helps you out."
One guy who knows a little something about player center is James Campen, the Packers' assistant offensive line coach. Campen was a center for the Packers for three seasons, starting 42 games during the 1990-92 seasons. Campen didn't let his lack of size affect his play, either.
"The height thing, that doesn't bother me," Campen told The Green Bay News-Chronicle earlier in the week. "He and I are just about the same height — I'm maybe a quarter of an inch taller.
"The thing is, he has a lot more tools in his tool box than I ever did. I had a screwdriver and a wrench. He's got a crescent wrench and a full socket set and screwdrivers to boot. He's got tremendous balance and strength. He's a player."