Mike Neal. Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports photograph

Hey, Mike Neal ... your time is NOW!

Can Mike Neal help ease the loss of Clay Matthews for the next four weeks? Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports photograph

We’re hoping Mike Neal is listening because everyone is certainly giving him advice – us included.

Alright, let’s get one thing straight before we go on here: The Green Bay Packers are indeed a much different animal with Clay Matthews on the field and I am far from arguing that point.

What I am getting at is the play of the outside linebacking corps in general.

No one can argue with Matthews’ presence on the field. Offenses undoubtedly need to be aware of where he’s at with every snap of the ball. When it comes to rushing the passer, his play speaks for itself.

What I find most effective in his play, however, is the ability to set the edge and force backs to the inside where they are stopped by the interior linemen and inside linebackers.

Through four games, Matthews has a respectable 18 tackles, along with three sacks and two forced fumbles.

Assuming Mike Neal is his replacement, he hasn’t done all that bad himself with 11 tackles and a sack.

Is Mike Neal anywhere near Matthews regarding linebacker play?

Absolutely not.

But I, for one, think Neal can do enough to lessen the proverbial blow of Matthews’ absence as long as he himself stays healthy.

One player who could actually benefit greatly from this injury would have to be Nate Palmer. Palmer had a solid camp and certainly has great upside and is lauded by outside linebackers coach Kevin Greene. Splitting reps between these two players could prove to be an effective substitution when it comes to filling in the void left by Matthews’ absence.

While the Packers Planet could be heard gasping when there was potential talk of Matthews possibly missing the entire season, we are resting somewhat more comfortably now that it’s only been diagnosed as a month-long absence.

Here’s to hoping that between Mike Neal and Nate Palmer, they can temporarily be solid outside linebackers who can at least make the plays they’re expected to make.

Neither one of them is a Matthews, but they should at least be able to hold their own for the next four weeks.

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Tags: Clay Matthews Green Bay Packers Kevin Greene Mike Neal Nate Palmer

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