Packers release DT Pennel after 2nd suspension

Michael Cohen
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
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GREEN BAY - After two suspensions in one year, the Green Bay Packers have moved on from defensive lineman Mike Pennel. The Packers released him Monday afternoon.

Pennel, 25, missed the first four games of the regular season after violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy during the offseason. He returned to the active roster in Week 6 and made his debut against the Dallas Cowboys. Pennel played in each of the next eight games before his problems resurfaced.

On Dec. 6, the league announced Pennel would be suspended for another violation of the substance-abuse policy. The suspension cost him the final four games of the regular season and expired last week, at which point the Packers received a one-week roster exemption.

"I mean anytime you spend time away from your dream is going to obviously be a difficult time," Pennel said last week during his first interview since the suspension began. "Working through it, it was nothing that the front office or the team could do. It was something that I had to work through internally and hopefully I put that all behind me.

"Through this whole process I had to sit down and realize, you know, (if) I wanted to continue my career and play for as long as I can, or do I want to shorten it by doing something off the field that has nothing to do with the team or anything on the field at all. I think that moment has passed, so I'm going to put it behind me."

But the Packers opted not to activate Pennel for the wild-card playoff game against the New York Giants, and the snaps along the defensive line were split among Mike Daniels, Letroy Guion, Kenny Clark and Dean Lowry. When Pennel's roster exemption expired Monday afternoon, general manager Ted Thompson made the decision to release him.

"Any time you're out for half the season not due to injury, that's a real disappointment for your fans, your family, your teammates, the coaches," Pennel said last week. "I think it just speaks volumes to the organization, even though these things happen, they came and talked with me and still were supportive through this whole situation. Now it's — I almost feel the urge to get back with my play style, my work ethic. I plan to do that.

"(The year) 2016 wasn’t too good of a year, but I’m just glad I got playing time in there and in the games I did play I found some success. Coming from the beginning of training camp and working so hard to come back, missing out on eight games, that’s a disappointment for anyone. Hopefully just put it behind me and continue my career."

Pennel originally signed with the Packers as an undrafted free agent in 2014. He appeared in 37 games over the last three seasons and made 40 tackles, including one sack.

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