Mike Neal is Back… Kind Of

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Mike Neal

Green Bay Packers defensive end Mike Neal returned this week from his four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. He still hasn’t been added to the active roster though.

The Packers have a one-week roster exemption to figure out what to do with Neal, meaning they don’t have to make a roster move with him until next week.

Of course, Neal wants to play this week.

“Any competitive person would be like, ‘You know what, I’m going to play,’” Neal said. “So that’s who I am. I’m a competitor. I want to play. But if it’s not my time, it’s not my time.”

Coach Mike McCarthy said Neal looked fresh in practice and it’s pretty clear he stayed in shape during his time away from the team. It doesn’t look like the Packers have ruled out the possibility of activating him this week.

If they did that, they’d have to release someone from the active roster to make room for him. Leading candidates would appear to be rookie safety Sean Richardson, who was a surprise addition to the final roster and has been dealing with injuries of late, and defensive end Phillip Merling, who’s the low man on the defensive line rotation totem pole.

Of course, the Packers could simply wait until after this week’s game to assess the situation or they could decide they like the players they have and release Neal, which wouldn’t be a huge surprise.

The former second-round pick has been injured for much of his time in Green Bay and when he’s been healthy, he’s also been completely ineffective.

If there’s any positive in that, it’s that Neal is totally motivated to prove himself.

About The Author

Monty McMahon is one of the founders of Total Packers. He is probably the most famous graduate of UW-Oshkosh next to Jim Gantner.

7 Comments on "Mike Neal is Back… Kind Of"

  1. TyKoSteamboat

    We spent a big 2nd round pick on Mike Neal.
    It’s time for him to start producing.
    I’m sure Ted Thompson still has high-hopes for this guy.

  2. Hey Monty,
    Re: Neal, my memory may–or may not–best yours, but I recall that in the very brief time he was healthy as a rookie, he showed enough Jenkins-like penetration talent that it got those who were watching high on his potential. Again in his second season, reports out of camp were that in pass-rush drills–for what they’re worth–he bordered on unstoppable.
    Then the injury.
    Unfortunately, that injury took way more time to heal than he was given before they reactivated him. Obviously, the staff thinking was that the team benefited even though playing hampered by pain he was useful as no more than a rest provider to spell teammates.
    So while I think it’s fair to sum up his career thus far as ineffective due to injury proneness, I don’t think it’s fair to think his appearances last year are any more indicative of his ability than Greg Jenning’s less than stellar performances playing with his groin injury.
    I’m predicting the staff sees enough in Neal’s upside and hunger to live up to his potential that they’ll cut the underachieving Merling to make space. Then, realistically, though I think he’d be a different player than last year’s injured shadow of himself, I’d not expect him to round into his current top form for a few weeks. And even then, to be fair, we should give him that his “current top form” will still be raw, but heading upward.
    Hope I’m not being too forgiving about the effects of his several setbacks and overly evaluating his potential to give us some of the pocket disruption we’ve missed since Jenkins. If they cut him right now, I’ll trust that my view from way up here along the Iditarod Trail is too distant and dependent upon my reading of past reports.

  3. AZ Pack

    Neal had a very good camp and a good preseason. Could be a quality defensive lineman for us and could give Pickett some breaks. Pickett needs to be with us for the longhaul of the season so it’s important to have a little more depth at d-line. Plus, Merling hasn’t really panned out to do much on the line. Some one needs to get in there and rattle up the cage a little bit. BTW, Worthy seems to be progressing every week. Would love to see Worthy become a Cullen Jenkins type of player in the future for us!!!

  4. Shawn iltarion

    Neal was a beast in the final preseason game, which is the only game he saw decent time. He still is a freakish athlete with the strength to stop the run and the speed to get after the passer.

    After a lackluster performance from the D-line against the Saints, the Packers could use Neal on the line.

  5. icebowl

    I say give him a go in Indian-no-place…
    Hopefully it be an extended practice squad game against the hopeless Colts.

  6. Pingback: Mike Neal In, Phillip Merling Out | Green Bay Packers | Total Packers

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