Mike Neal never expected to be playing outside linebacker as much as he has through the first month of the 2013 season, let alone starting there.
However, that’s exactly where the Green Bay Packers’ 6-foot-3, 275-pound defensive lineman/linebacker finds himself after coach Mike McCarthy confirmed Wednesday that four-time Pro Bowler Clay Matthews will be lost for “multiple weeks” because of surgery to repair a Bennett’s fracture in his right thumb.
When the team approached the fourth-year defensive lineman about making a shift this offseason, Neal figured he’d be counted on to provide more of a change-of-pace element to the defense than being an actual rotating member of the outside linebackers room.
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Instead, Neal quickly became the top backup outside to Matthews and second-year player Nick Perry after the organization dispatched Dezman Moses for a pair of raw but promising rookies in Andy Mulumba and Nate Palmer after training camp.
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