Green Bay Packers: Mike Neal Injury Creates Need for Lineman—Quickly
With the recent loss of Mike Neal due to a knee injury, the Packers are already experiencing the first wave of injury to create a dire need for a capable backup.
The Packers front three already needed help from the linebackers to effectively rush the passer and will now rely on them and B.J. Raji even more with the loss of Neal.
Although the Packers have stated that there will be a needed contribution from their young backups, a situation like this creates a need for an experienced and effective player to help.
Despite being content and quiet in the realm of free agency, the Packers must either consider trading or signing someone that was released form another club to limit the fallout of the Neal loss.
Here are a few players that could easily be brought in to help the Packers while Mike Neal recovers.
Jacob Ford, DE
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Jacob Ford was a defensive end for the Tennessee Titans that was released after the 2011 preseason final cut down.
As of September 13, Ford has tried out for the Lions but remains available.
Ford is listed at 6'4", 250 pounds and has the speed and ability to rush the passer from the end.
Over his three NFL seasons in Tennessee Ford has compiled a total of 90 tackles and 15 sacks.
Although the numbers aren't overly impressive, in comparison to the defensive personnel on the Packers, Ford has has more sacks in three years than the entire totals of Pickett, Wilson, Green and Wynn.
Most alarming is that Ford has accumulated 15 sacks over three years, whereas Ryan Pickett has nine over his 10-year career.
I don't feel the current reserves along the defensive line will generate the desired results. Ford would be the leading candidate to be brought in as a free agent.
Damione Lewis, DE
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Damione Lewis is a 10-year veteran and is available after being released by the Houston Texans.
Lewis is listed at 6'2", 301 pounds and is a former first-round pick of St. Louis in 2001.
He would be a good addition as he is primarily a pure pass rusher. He still has something left in the tank, not to mention a chip on his shoulder.
Just as Ryan Pickett, Lewis could bring a veteran accountability along with him and help teach younger players the position.
Igor Olshansky, DT/DE
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Although he is listed as a defensive tackle, Olshansky could easily transition to the defensive end position as his size (6'5", 315 lbs.) is large and would provide matchup problems for offensive linemen the Packers face.
The Packers could benefit from his ability to pass rush as he possesses acceptable speed and knows the game.
Another large individual to clog up the line with B.J. Raji would be nice and he could offer a little relief to the linebackers constantly needing to compensate for the lack of a formidable pass-rushing front three.
Tommie Harris DT/DE
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At 6'3", 295 pounds, this former Chicago Bear and recently released Colt has compiled a total of 215 tackles and 29 sacks over his seven-year career.
Another player who primarily was a defensive tackle, Harris has the size and ability to rush opposing quarterbacks and could transition to the end position very easily.
The appeal to sign someone the Packers have seen repeatedly over the past several seasons may give them more of a comfort on the investment as they know of Harris' ability.
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Overall, the Packers must decide if they will sit still or seek someone to help an already anemic pass rushing defensive front, and take all of the pressure off of Raji.
The Packers cannot afford to pass this opportunity up. If they do and one of the star linebackers is injured, they would be creating more of an issue for the team to address.
Regardless of overcoming adversity last year, it isn't something that the club should think is easily accomplished again in the 2011 season.
My message to the Packers' front office is simple:
S**t or get off the pot! Start looking for some help up front before it bites you in the rear.