If the Green Bay Packers were expecting defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove to make an early impact during his inaugural season with the team, they might need to revisit their plans.
Roger Goodell handed out the penalties for four players from the New Orleans Saints for their involvement in “Bountygate” scandal. Hargrove received the second-harshest punishment of all the Saints’ players (only Jonathan Vilma receiver a harsher punishment).
According to a report from NFL.com, Hargrove has been suspended for the first eight games of the 2012 NFL season. This is a big hit to the Packers, who likely knew that some type of punishment was coming, but probably couldn’t fathom him missing half the season.
Adam Schefter of ESPN reported that Hargrove and the other suspended Saints’ players are likely to appeal their suspensions.
While Hargrove’s play will be sorely missed by the Packers because of their desperate need for improved defensive line play, the suspension of Hargrove brings an entirely new issue to Green Bay.
The Packers have never been a team to deal with too much drama. In fact, when drama surrounding the team occurs, Ted Thompson and Co. like to get as far away from it as possible. This is completely understandable due to how much of a distraction a huge legal battle can distract the rest of the team from focusing on next Sunday’s game.
I don’t think that the Packers will completely wash their hands of Hargrove and simply replace him, but it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see Hargrove spend the majority of the season on the bench after his suspension. The Packers’ front office could let Hargrove contribute in a backup role, and give him the opportunity to fight for a starting spot come the following offseason.
The good news for the Packers is that they drafted two defensive lineman during the 2012 NFL draft. Both Jerel Worthy and Mike Daniels will now get a great opportunity to get on the field as rookies. Worthy may even be talented enough to fight for a starting spot opposite Ryan Pickett on the defensive line.
The Hargrove suspension will be one to watch closely in the upcoming weeks, as it isn’t likely to go away anytime soon.Follow @MatthewJStein