Could Mike Neal Return This Week To Face The Buccaneers?

GREEN BAY, WI - NOVEMBER 14: B.J. Raji #90 of the Green Bay Packers applies a pass rush against Christian Ponder #7 of the Minnesota Vikings at Lambeau Field on November 14, 2011 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

OK, I'm still skeptical about the return of DE Mike Neal to the Green Bay Packers, but it couldn't hurt. From the Press-Gazette:

"Am I ready to play? I feel I’m ready to play, but I’m not a doctor. Doctor knows more than I do and the trainers know more than I do. They can look at film and tell whether or not they feel I’m ready to go. I feel like I’m ready to play. If they activate me this week, I’m playing."

Last week I wrote about how winded NT B.J. Raji looked at the end of the Chargers game. It might help if he played less and let the other defensive lineman step up in the rotation. Well they did just that against the Vikings, as reported by the Press-Gazette, and they gave DE C.J. Wilson more playing time. It's hard to tell how effective this strategy was, but Wilson did record 4 tackles and 1 tackle for a loss, which was his best statistical performance in a game this season. On the other hand, Raji failed to record a single stat for the second week in a row, which isn't too surprising since he didn't play as much.

While Neal is not a nose tackle, he should be their best defensive lineman at rushing the passer (in theory anyway). If he can put some pressure on the quarterback, then the interior offensive lineman can't always double-team Raji. Hopefully the combination of Neal's return and fewer snaps can turn Raji back into the force he was late in the 2010 season.

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