McCarthy: Green Bay Packers defensive end Mike Neal Out For “Significant” Amount Of Time After Undergoing Surgery

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In only his second season, Packers DE Mike Neal is again expected miss significant playing time

One week of the 2011 season is in the books,  and already one potential key Green Bay Packer is out for an extended period of time.

During his afternoon press conference today, Packers head coach Mike McCarthy announced that defensive end Mike Neal, the hopeful replacement for the departed Cullen Jenkins,  recently underwent a surgical procedure on his injured knee.

McCarthy said that while Neal will miss “significant time,” which usually is a harbinger that the player is headed to injured reserve, he does not think Neal’s 2011 season is lost.  That said, if injuries continue to pile up (again), the Packers may have to put him on IR in order to clear roster space.

This is a heartbreaking development for the young defensive lineman.  Neal showed promise last season before landing on injured reserve and anyone who followed him on Twitter (@mneal96) knows how eager he was to get back on the field this year.

These developments immediately call into concern GM Ted Thompson’s decision not to resign Jenkins this season.  While he was oft injured himself, the Packers have some depth issues along the defensive line and even if Jenkins was beat out by Neal there would still be some veteran insurance on the bench.

Jarius Wynn is expected to get the start in place of Neal for the long haul. Wynn had a solid preseason, but Neal had such potential and a big upswing that it will be hard to replace.  Then again, as we saw with the 2010 team, the ability of defensive coordinator Dom Capers to plug guys into his defense and not miss a beat is uncanny.

As for my opinion, Neal is toeing the line on being labeled “injury prone.”  I’m not ready to call him “Justin Harrell with potential” just yet, but he has to stay healthy if he hopes to make any kind of impact in the league.    As for the hindsight review of letting Jenkins walk, with his past injuries, I’m not sure it would have been much of an improvement.  When healthy, Jenkins was one of the best in the NFL, but that wasn’t on a very consistent basis.

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Kris Burke is a sports writer covering the Green Bay Packers for AllGreenBayPackers.com and WTMJ in Milwaukee. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA) and his work has been linked to by sites such as National Football Post and CBSSports.com.

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  • Mojo

    This is a big blow to the Packers chances this year. I know other bloggers will chime in that it’s no big deal, but in this pass happy league having a pass rush greatly helps your D out. I won’t get into the Jenkins debate, although I wasn’t happy they let him go even before Neal was injured. The Packers pass rush has been at best so-so from the preseason thru the N.O. game.

    There also is very little depth now on the D-line. No one else better get injured. We’ll have to move Raji’s snaps up to 98% of the defensive total.

    I don’t see Wynn as much more than an average D-lineman. Hope I’m wrong.

  • StCroixPack

    So is Justin Harrell still available?

    • Chad Toporski

      Unfortunately, there is some real validity to that question if any of the other linemen get injured.

  • Tarynfor 12

    Dare I say it…but some ‘Drank’ may be on order as TT breaks the’in case of emergency glass’ in Goodells office to lift the suspension.

    • Ron LC

      Injury Prone vs. Drug Addled! Though choice there.

  • Ron LC

    Why are TT and MM continuing to tie up a roster spot with a guy who has less ability to recover from injury than a Lung Cancer patient that refuses to quit smoking.

  • Ron LC

    PS TT it’s time to let someone else select DT’s in the high rounds.

  • Oppy

    “Justin Harrell with potential”?

    Justin Harrell was exploding with potential.

    Don’t ever confuse Harrell’s inability to stay healthy with a lack of talent or potential. It’s a cruel trick god played upon that kid to give him so much talent but not the bodily fortitude to realize it on the field.

  • PackersRS

    Only in football a guy gets hurt and people start telling him how much he sucks…

  • BTF

    How many DL do the Pack normally activate on match day ? I had the feeling that it was 5,certainly seem to remember Wynn Wilson and Green being inactive for some games, though I’m prepared to bow to superior wisdom.

    If it is 5 though surely it makes sense to keep Neal on the roster for now-at least unless (as the article states) significant injuries occur elsewhere.

    I’m a long way from panicking, though I would like to see some more pass rush from Wynn or whoever is at ROLB. Thought Wynn had a decent game v NO and now is his chance to step up..

  • BTF

    Also just a random thought-maybe the team felt that they couldn’t keep 2 injury risks out of 6 at DL making the choice Jenkins or Neal as opposed to keeping Jenkins and Neal and losing one of the others. May well be wrong as ever..

  • Shavager

    Wished TT had took a look at Stephen Bowen, FA from Cowboys–young, talented DE-could’ve got a potential star cheap–certainly not much more than a high draft pick would’ve cost. With Neal out, it’s certain before the season’s end that Thompson will have to go to FA route or maybe a practice squad player to give depth. Defense hasn’t look really good yet and another one bites the dust.

  • Jon Jonzz

    I suppose they could IR him just about anytime they want to. His contract for the season is guaranteed. I see no downside at the moment. Fans shouldn’t have to think about this shit.

  • http://httl bill from jersey

    aaah shucks…..just time for TT fo do what he do. im sure he busting his green and gold balls looking for his next wonderful experiment…..replacements no problem fot TT……one more thing,stop second guessing TT decisions,we all know were clueless compared to him…….GO PACK