Speaking to the media for the first time since suffering his knee injury last November, Gary said his goals in rehabilitation have been more focused on daily effort and incremental gains over determining a long-term target date.
"One thing I told myself is throughout this process, I'm taking it day by day," Gary said. "I'm just making sure I'm squeezing the towel as much as I can every day, making sure I'm not leaving not one inch of doubt of if I pushed it to my all, so that's all, man. Just going 100% day by day, and we'll see where I'll be."
When Gary suffered the injury against the Lions on Nov. 7 last year, he initially didn't realize the severity of it and remained on the field for three more plays. It even shocked him when Gary was told that it would be a season-ender.
"When I got hurt, I wasn't thinking about me," he said. "I was thinking about how to help this team from where I can and what I can do."
Now Gary isn't even revealing whether he'll be fully healthy and ready for the start of the 2023 regular season. The Packers, coming off an 8-9 season, are starting over at quarterback with Jordan Love replacing Aaron Rodgers, who was traded to the New York Jets.
Having Gary available on defense feels like a pretty important thing for Green Bay. The team drafted Iowa edge rusher Lukas Van Ness in Round 1 as insurance, but the Packers took a more gradual approach to inserting Gary into the lineup as a rookie, and it's paid off for the long term.
Gary played only nine games last season because of the injury but finished second on the team in sacks (6.0). Over his past 40 games (29 starts), Gary has logged 20.5 sacks, three forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries and, along with Jaire Alexander, has become one of the leaders of the Packers' defense.
"Certainly, we all see the intensity at which he plays," Packers head coach Matt LaFleur said. "He is a game-wrecker, a guy that can significantly impact whether you're winning or losing. Just his ability to go out there and make plays.
"But I just love his approach, his work ethic, him helping out some of the younger guys. He's been very vocal. I just think he's made and wired the right way, and we're definitely lucky to have a guy like that."