Evidently, Johnny Jolly hasn’t cleared all of his hurdles quite yet.
Less than a week after graduating from his court-ordered drug-rehabilitation program in Houston, the Green Bay Packers’ defensive lineman was still a no-show during the second organized team activity practice open to the media on Tuesday.
Jolly, 30, tweeted after his graduation from the program that he would be back in Green Bay on Tuesday, but his No. 97 jersey continued to hang untouched in his locker room as Packers coach Mike McCarthy said he continues to work through the process of returning to the team.
A sixth-round pick in the 2006 NFL Draft, Jolly was suspended indefinitely by the NFL in 2010 after multiple arrests in Houston for felony codeine possession. He served six months of a six-year term in jail for violating probation and was released last May and placed on shock probation for 10 years.
McCarthy said he’ll comment more on Jolly when he returns to the team, but reiterated the team’s commitment to Jolly in the wake of his three-year hiatus from the league.
“Well I think our society is built on second chance,” McCarthy said. “I think how many times you look through the history of successful individuals that probably or maybe wouldn’t have happened without a second chance. Every case is different. There’s absolute right way and wrong way when you evaluate every situation. I’m glad to see Johnny Jolly going through the process that he’s going through. Very proud of where he is to this point but he still has a lot in front of him.”
Having signed a first-round tender for $2.5 million, Jolly was on the verge of becoming an important cog in the Packers’ defense at the time of his 2010 arrest for felony codeine possession.
He was coming off a 2009 campaign in which he had 39 tackles, one sack, one forced fumble and an interception with 113 career tackles over his first 48 games.
Now, he faces an uphill battle as the second-oldest member of an 11-man defensive line contingent. Only two linemen, Ryan Pickett and B.J. Raji, were on the last Packers’ team Jolly played on.
Jolly has been in town on a few occasions and has spoken with Raji, who is confident he can still contribute despite the three-year layoff.
“He had some legal issues he had to take care of, but it seems like things are looking up for him,” Raji said. “Obviously, he’s at the age where he’s already a great athlete, so getting back in shape isn’t the hardest thing in the world I think going through what he’s been through. I feel like he can get back there pretty easily.”