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.