Packers DE Neal takes next step in recovery from shoulder surgery : Packers Insider

Packers DE Neal takes next step in recovery from shoulder surgery

August 5, 2011 by  
Filed under News

By Pete Dougherty, Green Bay Press Gazette

~GREEN BAY – Defensive end Mike Neal graduated to doing team drills Thursday night in an encouraging but still early sign he’ll be ready to play in the regular-season opener.

Mike Neal has the talent to make fans almost forget about Cullen Jenkins. But he also has an early pattern of injury that scares fans in that his early timeline resembles that of Justin Harrell.

The Packers are looking for Neal to provide much of what they lost in their pass rush when defensive end Cullen Jenkins left in free agency last week. Neal, though, is coming back from a torn labrum and rotator cuff in his right shoulder from last October that required surgery, and he’s  he probably won’t be stength until early October.

For the first four days of practice he was taking part only in individual drills and some group work. But Thursday he took regular snaps in 11-on-11 with the No. 1 defense.

“I’m sure he was a little bit rusty on some of his techniques,” said Mike Trgovac, the Packers’ defensive line coach. “I’m not sure he’s throwing that right arm as much as he’s throwing the left, but that’s understandable. He was probably testing it out as he went along. But he looks like it’s better. Hopefully it will feel good in the morning and he gets confidence in it.”

As long as he suffers no setbacks, Neal should be on course to play in the opener against New Orleans on Sept. 8.

“Well yeah, he better be,” Trgovac said. “I can’t predict. Football-wise he could be ready for it. What’s he missed, five days? That doesn’t  help, but we still have four preseason games and a lot more practices left to go. It’s just whether the shoulder’s ready to go, and I don’t know about that.”

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