Two weeks ago, practice was tough for Green Bay Packers defensive lineman Mike Neal.

What had once been just a suggestion, almost jokingly, that he was so athletic he could play outside linebacker, suddenly became a reality when he first stepped on to the field for the first week of organized team activities.

Neal's facial expression and hesitant body language depicted a man who might not have been thrilled with the move.

But a week later, Neal said he wasn't nearly as upset.

"It was more me being lost. Geez," said Neal, almost laughing when he thought of linebackers coach Kevin Greene and his alarmed look at times. "KG, there's a lot of stuff going on!" Neal would tell him.

"I knew that they wanted me to kind of do both; it's just the variety I didn't know until I got here. One day I'm inside, one day I'm outside. One day I'm backpedaling, one day I'm sacking the quarterback. I'm still trying to figure it out for myself, really."

The fourth-year player said he was warming up to the new role and had accepted the challenge. Neal relished performing linebacker drills anyway, because he thought they were better for his feet.

"It's never been foreign to me. It's just, now we're drilling it," he said.

Neal said his new role presents new opportunities. On the defensive line, his head was down. As a linebacker, he has full vision of the field right away, which allows him to see plays develop and where the run is headed.

With a mandatory minicamp beginning Tuesday, Neal just needs time to learn it. Greene has given Neal a learning curve, he said. He doesn't yell at the mistakes, only corrects them.

"I'm like man, I messed this play up. But the cool thing is? I get the chance to understand why I messed that play up," Neal said. "It's not really frustrating. Last week a little bit; this week, not so much."

Neal also has dropped from last season's 294-pound playing weight while training in Florida.