Essendon ruckman Sam Draper is set to take the most significant step in his recovery from groin surgery this week as he edges closer to a hopeful Round 1 appearance.

Draper went under the knife last September following a heavily-interrupted year that saw the Bombers play just one game after Round 13 due to the ailment.

Having built his training loads over the course of pre-season, the 25-year-old is now in line to join the main group for his first full session of the summer on Wednesday.

Essendon have placed no pressure on Draper to play in their season opener against Hawthorn next month, with a steady return via AFL or VFL pre-season hitouts potentially on the cards for the Bombers big man.

Now "pain-free" and with the first wave of pre-season matches scheduled for next week, Draper is set to give coach Brad Scott the biggest indication yet of his Round 1 playing chances on Wednesday.

"I'm feeling pretty good to be honest. The last couple weeks have been great for me, running around pain-free and slowly getting into some drills with the boys," the South Australian said on Tuesday.

"I'm looking at training tomorrow with the group which is quite exciting. So I'm feeling feeling really good.

"I've been trying not to think too far ahead with this injury, just sort of taking the cliche one week at a time. I'm definitely aiming to play some of those practice games. Not sure what that looks like if it's AFL or VFL. My biggest thing is the main training tomorrow.

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"It's quite frustrating. It's not a straightforward injury. I feel like other injuries I've had in the past have been really clear cut in what you need to do to get better. So this injury has a lot of gray areas which is hard at times to work through. But I feel like it's taught me a lot and I feel like I'm gonna be better off after this injury.

"It might mean I might have to rest a week (during the season), I'm not quite sure. I'm definitely taking a more cautious approach coming out of this rehab. I had surgery at the end of September and I'm still not back yet. So the club's been really good at not rushing me.

"There's not this big countdown to Round 1 like there seems to be sometimes, although I am aiming for that, but we'll see."

Should Draper be absent for the start of the season, the Bombers will have all-time hitouts leader and free agency recruit Todd Goldstein to steer Scott's ruck crop.

Goldstein is likely to partner Draper when the pair finally get to work alongside each other, a thought that has thrilled the latter.

Having honed his forward craft over recent seasons, Draper views his new ruck pairing as a "pretty dangerous" partnership.

"I think we can definitely be a good partnership together. I think the last couple of years I've learned my craft in the forward line and feel really comfortable playing forward," he said.

"Whatever it looks like I'm excited for it. We haven't trained together, so it's a bit hard to say if we will be (a good match) but I think we can work well together.

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"I feel like I'm a little bit different to some other rucks. I can play forward and feel comfortable there. If I can get my goalkicking right I feel like we can be pretty dangerous.

"I think as the more I get out on the track, I'll be able to learn even more from him."

Having not trained at full capacity yet, Draper knows he's starting at the back of the club's pecking order, with young pair Nick Bryan and Vigo Visentini looking to put their names forward to pair with Goldstein in Draper's potential absence.

The selection pressure has been welcomed by the recovering 205cm ruckman, who has backed Bryan to be ready for any occasion.

"I haven't trained all summer, so he's definitely ahead of me at the moment," Draper said of Bryan. "That and he's been training really well.

"Even young Vigo coming through has been really impressive too. So I think it's great all the boys are out there at the moment. I just need to get out there and put my name forward."

Essendon face Hawthorn at the MCG on Saturday, March 16 to start their 2024 campaign.