Today’s news from Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy that Mike Neal’s unexpected surgery to his injured knee is bad news for the second year player, but good news for Jarius Wynn, the defensive lineman who has stepped in and been a big surprise.
Neal was projected to have a breakthrough year, recovering from a season-ending injury last year and stepping into a starting role when Cullen Jenkins left in free agency.
Now with McCarthy’s declaration that Neal will miss a significant amount of time, some may be feeling a sense of urgency or even emergency.
I don’t think the Packers are to that point yet. If Wynn can continue to play at a high level, the line will be just fine as long as there are no other injuries at that position. Getting Wynn valuable playing time early in the season will, in fact, be to the benefit of the Packers. When Neal does recover from the surgery and gets back on the field, the depth at the position will be that much greater.
However, there are many “ifs” with that outlook. First, the Packers have to stay healthy and second, Neal does indeed need to make a full recovery and come back.
If Neal doesn’t, he will be quickly tabbed as injury-prone and could be on his way out of Green Bay as quickly as he arrived.
Many questions will be answered in the next few weeks. The defensive line will be tested this week as the Panthers will certainly try to establish a solid ground game to allow Cam Newton a chance to succeed with the pass. And with teams like the Bears and Vikings on the schedule – both of those teams like to pound the football – it will be interesting to see if the Packers line can stand up to the pounding.
Stay tuned …