TONY SMASH! (Photo by Rich Schultz /Getty Images)
There's no question that the Green Bay Packers need several able bodies to rotate on the defensive line in order to keep all the players on that unit effective. When two of them, Mike Neal and Anthony Hargrove, are facing suspensions for the start of the year, that makes preparations for the defense much more difficult and complicated.
Mike McCarthy briefly touched on these issues in his press conference over the weekend, as Jason Wilde reports. He didn't say much, but what he did say goes a long way:
The priority will be to be ready for the opening of our season with our 53 players.
McCarthy seems to be far more concerned about fielding his full team in week one against San Francisco rather than worrying about two players who may be eligible in the middle of the season. I tend to think that you can't make a season great by having a great September, but you can make it a disappointment. McCarthy seems to agree, and while it's unlikely that Green Bay will start 0-4 regardless of the defensive line depth, continuity on the line from day one is certainly an imperative.
When asked specifically about Hargrove's unique situation, the coach had this to say:
(It's) a new situation that I’ve been in and the organization has been in dealing with a potential suspended player coming from another team onto our roster.
Furthermore, Wilde paraphrases McCarthy to say that a plan for Hargrove's preparation in training camp will not be created until the team knows more about the status of the defensive end's appeal process. Neal, however, has a plan already since his four-game suspension is final.
With defensive linemen Jerel Worthy and Mike Daniels coming into camp as rookies, it is looking less and less likely that Neal and Hargrove will get a chance to make the 53-man roster when their appeals are over. My impression, however, is that since they won't count against the roster during their suspensions, it will be valuable to hold onto them in case an injury bug strikes the defensive line. I expect that they will have to show more in training camp than the average player on the bubble to earn a roster spot when they return.