After the final training camp practice yesterday, Rob Davis sat down in the locker next to Mike Neal.
It was perhaps the last time Davis, the Packers director of player development, will get the chance to talk to Neal for a month. Beginning Monday, Neal begins serving his four-game suspension for violating the NFLís policy on performance-enhancing drugs. Neal said he was suspended for taking the prescription drug Adderall without informing the league he was doing so.
ďLike I told Rob, if you look at the next four weeks, thatís like having another offseason,Ē Neal said. ďThatís basically the time we have from OTAs to training camp. Iím looking at it like that and just being smart and making sure I get in good workouts and not overdo it.Ē
Neal said he will spend the month in Tampa, Fla., where he typically works out in the offseason.
ďIíve been talking to Mike for the last month about this,Ē defensive line coach Mike Trgovac said. ďI will definitely talk to Mike again before he leaves. Itís been difficult on Mike; itís been difficult on me as well. Itís the first time Iíve ever had go through this with a player who you know will be suspended. I will definitely have some advice for Mike.
ďBut Iím not worried him. Mikeís going to work out. Heís going to live right. Heís not a troublemaker. Heís not in the nightclubs. Heís a homebody. I donít worry about him in that regard. I just want to make sure his psyche is OK.Ē
The oft-injured defensive end made it through the entire training camp without missing a practice. The former second-round draft pick has played in only nine games over the last two years because of shoulder, abdominal and knee injuries.
He hasnít gotten a lot of snaps this summer but hopes to play in Thursdayís preseason game against Kansas City.
ďFor me, itís an opportunity to play football,Ē Neal said. ďI havenít been healthy. I havenít been able to play well, and I think when the opportunity comes, you take advantage of it. You learn a lot this time of the year. You see guys leaving the locker room with regrets and wish they had another opportunity. For me, Iím just looking at it like, thank God Iíve got another opportunity.Ē
-- Rob Demovsky, firstname.lastname@example.org