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What To Expect From Mike Neal in His Second Season

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Green Bay Packers DE Mike Neal still isn't 100% back from a torn rotator cuff. From JS

"I probably won't be 100 percent until the same time I had surgery on Oct. 26," said Neal, a 2010 second-round draft pick out of Purdue. "The good thing is that by training camp, I should be ready to play with a little slight pain. It's nowhere near to the extent it was when I had surgery."

Tyler Dunne goes further describes how Neal was a gym rat in college, but finds the slow pace of his rehab workouts now "depressing." 

There are a couple of key moments coming up for Neal. Can he pass his physical when he reports for training camp? If not, then he might end up on the PUP list to start the season, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. And what happens once he gets back into practice and has to start fighting off blocking lineman? Again, it's hard to tell until he does it because it doesn't appear that his workout routine is anything that intense.

Overall it's a discouraging article. Starting with Morgan Burnett, I was looking ahead at what can we expect from players in their second season. Right now, I'd have to say: not much from Neal. The best case scenario is that he passes his physical, is given a reduced load during training camp and the preseason while he continues to heal, and he's eased back as a rotational player at the start of the season. The worst case scenario is always a season long stint on I.R.

But if he can't pass his physical, he may start the season on the PUP list (basically out the first six weeks), then a return to a gradually expanded role. That's what happened with James Starks in 2010, and he still managed to play a role during their Super Bowl season.