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Packers 'support' Pennel through suspension

Ryan Wood
USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin
Green Bay Packers defensive end Mike Pennel (64) tries to close a hole in the line as Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson (28) bursts through at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

INDIANAPOLIS - The Green Bay Packers have no plans to cut defensive lineman Mike Pennel, who was suspended four games last week for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy.

Pennel finished last season as a starting defensive end in the Packers' base 3-4 defense. The Packers rarely line up in their base defense, so Pennel didn’t play the usual snaps expected from a starter. Still, he’s an ascending player after signing as an undrafted free agent two years ago.

Coach Mike McCarthy wouldn’t discuss the specifics of Pennel’s situation, saying he hasn't yet gathered all the information. But he made it clear he supports his third-year defensive lineman.

“Mike’s one of our guys,” McCarthy said. “We’ll support him through this as we continue to find out more and see how it ends up, too. We all know how these things go.

“Mike’s a young player who I thought really came on in the second half of the season. We’ll work with him and get through this.”

Mike Pennel's suspension will slow his ascent

Pennel’s suspension does heighten the importance of restocking a defensive line that was already among the Packers’ priorities. The Packers re-signed defensive end Mike Daniels in December. Earlier this month, defensive lineman Letroy Guion became the first offseason free agent to re-sign with Packers.

That leaves free-agent defensive tackle B.J. Raji. After Guion re-signed, Raji texted USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin that he was "uncertain" how it affected his future in Green Bay.

McCarthy said Thursday he hopes the Packers also re-sign Raji.

rwood@gannett.com and follow him on Twitter @ByRyanWood