In the Green Bay Packers’ final two preseason games, running back Rajion Neal caught nine passes for 81 yards and a touchdown. He averaged 5.3 yards per carry. Yes, he was quite confident.
But he knew there were no guarantees.
Standing at his locker following what appeared to be a breakout game against the Philadelphia Eagles, the former undrafted tailback was asked about his chances to crack the Packers’ 53-man roster.
“It’s so hard to say,” Neal said, “because you just never know what it is exactly, what they may want as far as in their third back. Granted, they may want versatitliy, but who knows? They may want a bigger body. They may want a sledgehammer. They may want a slasher. So you just kind of never know.”
Neal represented versatility. The Packers went with a sledgehammer.
The closest position battle in training camp ended Saturday when the Packers signed undrafted rookie Alonzo Harris, who’s built more like a linebacker at 6-foot-1, 237 pounds. Neal, who finished last season on the Packers’ practice squad, was released and must now clear waivers before he can once again be added to the practice squad Sunday.
Harris missed the Packers’ third preseason game against the Eagles because of a broken hand. He returned for Thursday’s finale against the Saints, when he rushed for 41 yards on nine carries (3.2 yards per carry).
He wore a club over his hand against the Saints, but Harris is expected to be healthy enough to play if he’s activated on the 46-man gameday roster in the opener against the Chicago Bears.
“He would be ready to go in some way shape or form, probably without the club,” a source told Press-Gazette Media. “Now, what does that mean? Splint? Just a bandage? I don’t know. There’s going to be the emotional, euphoric high and adrenaline that will play a part in it as well, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.
“I’m not predicting anything with his health, but we’re 99 percent sure that he would suit up and be good to go without that club.”
Before this weekend, Neal saw himself as a potential “building block” for the organization. He wanted to stay with the Packers, continue being molded by the team.
Now the only chance he has of doing that is to be added to the practice squad for a second straight year.
“I didn’t have much in mind,” Neal said when asked what he needed to do to make the active roster. “I just really wanted to come out, wanted to be productive. I wanted to just continue to show the coaches that I can play, and whatever’s asked of me, I can do. I came in with an open mind, just wanting to play ball.”
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