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Green Bay Packers Can’t Rely on Mike Neal After Four-Game Suspension: Fan’s Take
The NFL has suspended Green Bay Packers defensive end Mike Neal for the first four games of the 2012-13 regular season after he tested positive for performance-enhancing substances. Neal can participate in all offseason activities and preseason contests. Neal won't play in a regular-season game until at least October.
Here's my advice for Neal: contact Ryan Braun and get his lawyer's phone number. Aaron Rodgers should have Braun's number on his rolodex.
Seriously though, this is just another setback for a third-year player whose career has been derailed with injuries. The Packers loved his potential when they took him with their second-round pick in the 2010 NFL Draft. While Neal missed the majority of his rookie season, the Packers felt like he could be a serviceable replacement for Cullen Jenkins. Jenkins would sign with the Philadelphia Eagles this past offseason.
Mike McCarthy was displeased when he was questioned about Neal before this suspension occurred. McCarthy recently claimed that all he ever asked of his players was "Accountability" and "Availability." That means don't get injured. It also means don't get suspended for something foolish like PEDs.
The Packers can't rely on Neal's potential anymore. The defensive line needs a new "Plan A" because Neal can't stay on the field. Maybe Neal can return from his suspension and become a productive role player. A team can never have enough depth in the trenches.
This suspension should increase the probability that general manager Ted Thompson will use a high draft pick on a defensive lineman in the 2012 NFL Draft. The Packers finished the regular season with 29 sacks. Their lack of a pass rush was a major reason for why they surrendered more passing yards than any team in league history. It was also one of their downfalls in the NFC Divisional playoff loss to the New York Giants on January 15, 2012.
The Packers must improve their pass rush in a division that features Calvin Johnson and Brandon Marshall. The Chicago Bears acquired Marshall in a trade with the Miami Dolphins that included two undisclosed draft picks.
Joshua Huffman graduated from Middle Tennessee State University as a marketing major in 2009. He's been a Middle Tennessee resident from 1986-88 and 2001-present. He lived in the Upper Peninsula and Northern Wisconsin from 1988-01 and for approximately eight months in 2009-10 as he completed a 20-game volunteer position with the USHL's Green Bay Gamblers. His favorite sports organizations include the Green Bay Packers, Chicago Cubs, Nashville Predators and Tennessee Titans. He can be found on Twitter HERE.
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