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Point of Veau: Because of Suspensions, Worthy Won't Be Brought Along Slowly

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Point of Veau: Because of Suspensions, Worthy Won't Be Brought Along Slowly

Expectations will be high for Packers second-round draft choice Jerel Worthy, perhaps not as high as first-round pick Nick Perry, but high nonetheless.

The Packers traded up to make Worthy the 51st overall selection in the 2012 Draft, which only made the expectations higher because general manager Ted Thompson thought enough of the Michigan State defensive lineman to give up a fourth-round draft choice in the process.

And to take it one step further, Worthy will likely play an even bigger role now that free agent signee Tony Hargrove and holdover Mike Neal have been suspended by the NFL, subject to appeal in the case of Hargrove.

Hargrove was initially suspended the first eight games of the 2012 regular season for his part in the New Orleans Saints bounty program when he played for them in 2009 and 2010. Neal's suspension is for the first four games of the regular season for violating the league's substance abuse policy.

Both players can take part in the Packers' offseason program, OTAs, minicamp, training camp and preseason games. Their suspension begins once preparations begin for Week 1 of the regular season.

The suspensions to Hargrove and Neal make Worthy's development even more critical to the Packers' success in 2012 as the rookie will probably have to play a bigger role earlier in the season than he perhaps would have otherwise.

That means defensive line coach Mike Trgovac, defensive coordinator Dom Capers, head coach Mike McCarthy and the rest of the Packers coaching staff will have to take the kid gloves off when preparing Worthy for the rigors of the NFL.

My first impression of Worthy in the immediate aftermath of his selection was that he'd probably play a role as a pass-rush specialist early in his rookie year. He'd be the type of guy that would be a play defensive tackle in the nickel and dime subpackages.

That was before I gave much thought to the suspensions of Neal and Hargrove. Without their services, Worthy could very likely play a larger role in the base 3-4 defense than he perhaps would have if the suspended duo were available.

Worthy will still have to earn his playing time as a rookie, but if he shows even a sliver of the talent he showed in college, it won't be especially difficult to see playing time ahead of the likes of Jarius Wynn, C.J. Wilson and fellow rookie Mike Daniels.

The Packers will have to rely upon Worthy early, giving him lots of repetitions during the offseason and training camp in order to get him ready for Week 1 when the Packers host the San Francisco 49ers.

And if Worthy is up to the challenge, he might be able to hold off Neal and Hargrove for playing time once they come back from suspension as well, perhaps even allowing the Packers to cut ties with them.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (15) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Doug In Sandpoint's picture

Maybe Hargrove can drag his feet with appeals, so he can be used for the first four games. Then he can go on suspension when Neal comes back. Worthy cuts his teeth playing on passing downs and everyone is ready for the playoffs. Done deal. On to the SB.

packsmack25's picture

Doesn't work like that unless you're the Vikings, unfortunately.

Fish/crane's picture

+1

cow42's picture

I'd rather have worthy in on base and hargrove in on obvious passing downs (body types).

Drew's picture

Why not both? Nickel package (big okie) has two DT's as one gap penetrators. Something Hargrove and Worthy both excel at. Get Raji off the field so he doesn't have to play 90% of the snaps.

Ebongreen's picture

Hargrove is essentially an older Mike Daniels - a pass-rush 3-tech for nickel. I would be shocked if we saw him in base with any regularity, because I don't see that he can two-gap. The more likely scenario is that the two of them are in competition for maybe one roster spot, or perhaps two along with Jarius Wynn.

If Neal makes it through camp healthy and contributes in the pre-season, I would be surprised if the Packers cut ties with him. He's got too much potential and time ahead - it's not like he's over-the-hill age-wise. If he bombs or gets hurt, it opens things for players like Hargrove to make it or for Wilson to stay.

There's only room for six or seven guys on the roster, in all likelihood. Raji's staying; Pickett's a good bet. Worthy was just drafted, as was Mike Daniels. After that, I think the field is wide open. So that's two or three open spots for … currently seven guys. Guy, Hargrove, Neal, Wilson, Wynn, Johnny Jones, and Daniel Muir. That's a lot of bodies to either cut or (God forbid) stash on IR. Lots of competition for those last couple of spots, and plenty of substituions to make when the suspensions come through. Any of the guys who make the roster for the first month can't and shouldn't feel comfortable with Neal and Hargrove breathing down their necks.

Cole's picture

I could be wrong but I thought Neal and Hargrove wouldn't count toward the final 53 while suspended? Which would means it would be five guys for two or three spots, at least until they return, then they will have to decide assuming no one has suffered a major injury.

Ebongreen's picture

I'm pretty sure you're correct, Cole - neither Neal nor Hargrove count on the roster while their suspended.

That said, it's still a logjam at the position, and it will be one of the challenges of camp to sort out. Guy could be signed to the practice squad if he's cut and clears waivers, but I think he and Johnny Jones are the only two who would qualify. And if anyone (including Neal or Hargrove) lights it up during preseason, it makes it that much more difficult to cut at the position, which means someone else goes instead.

FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture

Shea McClellin.

Rocky70's picture

Neither Hargrove nor Neal are guaranteed roster spots regardless of their pending suspensions. If Hargrove's suspension ends up in the court system, there's a good chance that he'll maybe get suspended in a year or two. (or never, at least as a Packer)

What would please me most is if both Hargrove & Neal were simply "not good enough" to win a roster spot in TC & preseason. Both are already unwanted distractions.

MarkinMadison's picture

I have not been following the situation real close, but it sounds like from the banter that Homer and Wilde are having that this really could end up in court. If the NFLPA goes that route then you are probably looking at 6-12 months to get that resolved, minimum, and that's with no appeals. I like Hargrove's chances of being available this season.

marcopo's picture

According to all the reports I've seen, Hargrove has been a valued and liked member of every lockerroom he's been in. Further, it's a little early to give up on Neal.

Point Packer's picture

I wouldn't shed a tear of either Hargrove or Neal get cut. Both are schmucks.

marcopo's picture

Wynn and Wilson have proved they can't cut it. Historically the defensive line is not a position that rookies can't step in and do well. It's always humorous talking about the Packer's "base defense", since they don't use it too often. Worthy has every potential of being used all three downs, even if the mission changes. Perhaps the Packers will re-think their "stop the run" first philosophy in light of the huge plays they gave up last year. In any event, I see Capers going to special inside pressure packages.

DrewTheDraftGuru's picture

I don't think it's a given that Hargrove will serve his suspension this year.

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