Packers News: Team activates Neal, releases Merling

Packers DE Mike Neal
Packers DE Mike Neal
Packers DE Mike Neal

Defensive end Mike Neal served a four-game suspension to start the 2012 season. And now that he’s eligible to return to the field, the team has activated him to the 53-man roster.

Neal practiced with the team this past week, and he’s now available to play tomorrow against the Indianapolis Colts. Sunday’s game will be a bit of a homecoming for Neal, who was born in Merrillville–about 150 miles north of Indianapolis.

The Packers selected Neal in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft, but he’s appeared in just nine games in two NFL seasons. Still, Neal remains one of the Packers’ most athletic defensive linemen, and the team hopes he can provide a push up the middle.

Green Bay’s pass rush has registered 15 sacks through four games this season. However, the interior of the defensive line has been unable to generate much of a pass rush. None of the Packers’ six defensive lineman to play this season currently holds a positive grade in the pass rush department, according to Pro Football Focus.

To make room for Neal, the Packers cut veteran defensive end Phillip Merling.

The Packers signed Merling this summer as an unrestricted free agent from the Miami Dolphins. After an impressive training camp, the coaching staff decided to keep Merling over defensive lineman Daniel Muir while Neal served his suspension.

With Neal back in the fold, he and Jerel Worthy will likely be the Packers’ two down linemen in their 2-4-5 nickel alignment. Stay tuned on Sunday for the team’s inactive list to see whether or not Neal is active for week five.


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Marques is a Journalism student, serving as the Sports Editor of UW-Green Bay\'s campus newspaper The Fourth Estate and a Packers writer at Jersey Al\'s Follow Marques on Twitter @MJEversoll.


8 thoughts on “Packers News: Team activates Neal, releases Merling

  1. It is my understanding that the Packers have until next week to make a decision on Neal, meaning if he isn’t going to play Sunday, they didn’t need to cut anyone. I guess I would take this move as they plan on Neal suiting up tomorrow.

  2. Now that Mike Neal is back from his “Adderal” suspension this week, I hope that his “focus” is off the charts.

    1. Good quote, Mojo. I remember Laurence Olivier saying it in ‘Clash of the Titans’ (though many readers here may remember Liam Neeson in the remake).

      Very appropriate for Neal, is Luck the poor virgin chained to the rock ? Heh.

  3. Going out on a limb here, but think Neal will have a very good season with lots of PT. His ability has never been the issue – only his health.

  4. This has to be Neal’s last chance. All that potential has never been dispayed on the field. When he came back after yet another injury last year, he was under-whelming. As a result of his propensity to injury he got caught using a PED. He used the stuff to improve his chances of avoiding injury, I have no doubt. Let’s hope he has conditioned himself during the off season to become more flexible.

    I’d really like this guy to live up to that potential for his own sake, as well as that of the Pack.

    Go Pack -Go Neal

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