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Mike Neal makes transition from D-line to LB for Packers

Nealcloseup1 Getty Images

The Green Bay Packers desperately need to improve their defense.  One strategy may be to reshuffle it.

As mentioned in the Monday morning one-liners, the Packers have slid defensive lineman Mike Neal to linebacker.

Lori Nickel of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel explains the challenges Neal has faced.  Though Neal has lost weight to assist his ability to move (he declines to say how much), he could still play both defensive line and linebacker.  And he views the change as a good thing.

“That’s a big compliment to me,” Neal said. “I actually look at it as, they’re trying to make a way for me to get on the field and make plays.”

It started, per Nickel, as a suggestion that Neal was sufficiently athletic to play outside linebacker.  He’s been doing it since the start of OTAs, and the intensity necessarily will be increased this week during a mandatory minicamp, as he gets more reps covering tight ends in pass routes.

However Neal fits into the defense, the defense needs to improve in 2013, or the Packers will once again exit in the divisional round of the playoffs.  If they even get that far.

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34 Responses to “Mike Neal makes transition from D-line to LB for Packers”
  1. unbiasfan says: Jun 3, 2013 10:11 PM

    Packers defense is a complete joke, did you see how bad they got blown out by the 49ers in that playoff game? Oh and if I remember right the Vikings beat the 49ers earlier in the season and had the reigning MVP :)

  2. hansenbrothers says: Jun 3, 2013 10:13 PM

    Makes me wonder what they’re gonna do with nick perry. I feel like this is gonna be a failed experiment. Hope it works though, they need all the help at lb they can get.

  3. nineroutsider says: Jun 3, 2013 10:21 PM

    I’m surprised that they didn’t do much to improve the edge of that defense. I’m sure most reasonable Packers fans would admit that they have largely failed to address that issue…thus far. That was their biggest flaw last season and if they fixed it they’d be even tougher to beat. AP and Kaep smoked the edge of that D and others did as well.

    They did the same thing after 2011 with the defense and did have some statistical improvement, but the defense let them down more times than it should have. Capers will feel the heat this year if they don’t step up on D, but Thompson hasn’t given him much to work with…unless I’m missing something?

  4. GenXJay says: Jun 3, 2013 10:33 PM

    I doubt this solves the read/option. Kaepernick would continue to have a field day.
    & if a dynamic qb won’t, than an MVPeterson will.

  5. thehatefulnerd says: Jun 3, 2013 10:44 PM

    He can probably cover TEs better than Hawk or Bishop.

    They should move him inside!

  6. allday28mvpmvp says: Jun 3, 2013 10:46 PM

    Alotta shuffling going on with that defense. Gotta wonder how many games its gonna take to make it hold up. I’m glad Spielman has locked up solid pro-bowl o-lineman for the Vikes (Kahlil & Sullivan) and solid vets like Charlie Johnson.
    These guys work like a unit. Take notes Packer players.

  7. allday28mvpmvp says: Jun 3, 2013 10:47 PM

    Alotta shuffling going on with that offensive line. Gotta wonder how many games its gonna take to make it hold up. I’m glad Spielman has locked up solid pro-bowl o-lineman for the Vikes (Kahlil & Sullivan) and solid vets like Charlie Johnson.
    These guys work like a unit. Take notes Packer players.

  8. aa1829 says: Jun 3, 2013 10:48 PM

    Go Pack

  9. chris6523 says: Jun 3, 2013 10:51 PM

    I wouldn’t recommend buying Mike Neal as a linebacker options on the futures market. Count me as one packer fan that thinks this dog ain’t gonna hunt.

  10. noeffinway says: Jun 3, 2013 11:07 PM

    Or not even make the divisional round.

  11. packerbackernj says: Jun 3, 2013 11:25 PM

    “That’s a big compliment to me,” Neal said. “I actually look at it as, they’re trying to make a way for me to get on the field and make plays.”

    Or they are desperately trying to see if you can play any position before they cut you. You’ve been a disappointment on the dline thus far.

  12. munny10 says: Jun 3, 2013 11:29 PM

    As a packer fan, not sure what they saw in Neal that thinks he might be able to cover a TE/RB. When healthy, good -not great- interior rusher. Straight-Line speed doesn’t equate to good TE coverage. Worried this spells they have doubts about Perry developing into what the hoped out of a #1 round pick. MM has musical chairs on O-line and now on dline/LBs. Lets hope MM is the genius the pack needs after two bad playoff years in a row. Go pack!

  13. ponderthedumpoffking says: Jun 3, 2013 11:38 PM

    Packers 11th in defense (yards and points)

    Vikings 14th and 16th in defense.

    Saying the Packers are bad on defense is saying that the Vikings are a joke on defense.

    Facts are facts.

  14. filthymcnasty1 says: Jun 4, 2013 12:18 AM

    This is a guy who might not even make the Packers.

    Though I’m sure he’s probably good enough for some other hapless, tasteless team.

  15. tangysizzl says: Jun 4, 2013 12:19 AM

    That complete joke of a defense beat the Vikings, Lions and Bears not once but twice each last year, so the jokes on you. 49ers fans can talk smack because they acually beat GB twice last year.

    As a fan Im not exactly sure what the plan is with Neal at OLB but im not too worried about it. If hes versatile enough to play both positions then so be it. This defense plays the majority of the time in sub packages with only 2 DL on the field so finding a way to get another big strong athletic guy like Neal on the field in those situations makes sense to me.

  16. farvite says: Jun 4, 2013 1:30 AM

    Stupid.

    The Packers have 4-3 personnel but want to run a 3-4.

    Just stupid.

  17. 2guru4u says: Jun 4, 2013 1:51 AM

    I didn’t know Mike Tomlin was playing for the Packers now…

  18. 28for20 says: Jun 4, 2013 5:15 AM

    Last ditch effort. Epic Fail!

  19. iluvbears says: Jun 4, 2013 6:22 AM

    I hope the Vikings exploit him by lining up Kyle Rudolph or John Carlson on him & make Neal try to cover them. It could make for some really big down field plays.

  20. purplepride74 says: Jun 4, 2013 6:26 AM

    If the don’t have the right players, maybe they should get new players…

  21. shlort says: Jun 4, 2013 6:38 AM

    Did anyone notice that Green Bay won the Division last season and bounced the Vikings from the playoffs because the Vikings QB is a sissy? Anyone see that? That is how bad GBs D is. Thats all they do is win the division regularly, and the SB a couple years back. GB will probably win the Division gain this season while the Vikings put all their hopes on a QB who couldn’t hit the broad side of a Barn on his best day. Nice to see Minnesota with some decent receivers though. Not like the have a QB that can get the ball anywhere near any of them.

  22. shlort says: Jun 4, 2013 6:41 AM

    And the guy who thinks Kaepernick is the next coming of whoever.

    Kaepernick won’t be around when the playoffs hit. When Kaepernick only makes it to week 10, and the 9ers are 7-3, how do you suppose the 9ers make the playoffs? Who comes off the bench and wins them 3 of the last 6 games to get into the payoffs while Kaepernick is on IR?

    Kaepernick will get crushed this season. Book it!

  23. purplepunisher says: Jun 4, 2013 7:10 AM

    The Packers defense was the worst in the league at the end of the 2012 season. So whats that wizard Ted Thompson do? drafts not 1 but 2 RB”s.

    Packers are looking at 8-8 or 9-7 if Rodgers plays the whole season.

  24. countyk66ers says: Jun 4, 2013 7:24 AM

    The Pack does not desperately need to improve their defense.

  25. emoney826 says: Jun 4, 2013 8:50 AM

    Only time will tell. All of the General Managers in Minnesota seem to think its going to be a failure. They like to worry about the packers with every post they make because they know they’ll be chasing them again this year, as well as probably the Bears too. 2013-14 3rd place Vikings. Sounds all too familiar.

  26. purplepride74 says: Jun 4, 2013 9:09 AM

    I’m no genius, but it seems to me, if you don’t have the right players for your scheme, maybe get new players…

  27. skimbell says: Jun 4, 2013 9:38 AM

    I’ve been a Packer fan all my life and I’m constantly amazed at this policy by the Packers. Why draft a player that has excelled at the position that they have played all their lives and decide that there going to make a better whatever?
    I’m just glad that TT didn’t need a punter when they drafted Rogers.

  28. Rick Spielman is a Magician says: Jun 4, 2013 9:50 AM

    This is the Packers’ patented strategy. Instead of improving your team through the draft or free agency, you just shuffle guys around. I’m not smart enough to understand how it works, but tokyo will explain the brilliance, I’m sure.

  29. jwcarlson says: Jun 4, 2013 10:52 AM

    As a Packers fan, the whole draft a DE make him a 3-4 OLB is getting pretty old. It seems to work out roughly once every never. Didn’t work with Kampman (injuries also a concern there as well)… it doesn’t seem to work much anywhere.

    I’m just a fan, so I’ll leave the football decisions to the football folks in GB. I just don’t understand sometimes when it seems like it basically never works out.

  30. tokyosandblaster says: Jun 4, 2013 10:56 AM

    Rick apparently thinks that the Vikings are the only team that drafted or will improve in the offseason.

    That’s what must have happened the last time the Vikes won the Super Bowl.

  31. Rick Spielman is a Magician says: Jun 4, 2013 11:19 AM

    tokyosandblaster says:Jun 4, 2013 10:56 AM

    Rick apparently thinks that the Vikings are the only team that drafted or will improve in the offseason.

    That’s what must have happened the last time the Vikes won the Super Bowl.
    _____

    Just waiting for somebody to explain to me how the Packers have improved and the Vikings have gotten worse since last season. You keep saying it, but I’m not seeing it.

  32. Carl Gerbschmidt says: Jun 4, 2013 12:06 PM

    Why are there so many vik fans commenting on a story where the Packers are moving a defensive player from one position to another during OTAs? Oh I see, it’s because there are no viking stories, because nobody cares about the vikings.

  33. tokyosandblaster says: Jun 4, 2013 12:06 PM

    Actually, quite the opposite.

    YOU keep saying that the Packers didn’t draft, and the younger players won’t get better with experience; all the Packers did is shuffle guys around.

    The truth is, the Packers just have to stay healthy. The Packers had waaaay more people injured last year and were still a much better defense than the Vikings.

    How old is Jared now? How about Williams?

    Thought they were on the wrong side of 30.

    Maybe I’m wrong.

  34. axespray says: Jun 4, 2013 1:35 PM

    Considering we drafted two Defensive Ends – Boyd a Run stuffer, Datone a Pass Rusher – to compliment the guys we’ve already got…

    Then at OLB we’ve got Clay/Nick and a couple slim rotational pass rushers – we’ve gotta have a beefy edge setter, Neal isn’t good at eating up space inside, but he’s a decent pass rusher and a good athlete …

    I don’t see a problem with it, as long as Dom doesn’t ask him to Cover tight ends.

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