Last night at Lambeau, Tundra Line invited themselves to our family tailgate.
The enthusiastic Packer percussion ensemble surrounded our little group of pre-season partiers and blasted out a few numbers.
It was the most exciting play of an excruciating pre-season game.
Fortunately for fans, the most dramatic pre-season Packer stories take place within the game and we spent some time analyzing the gut-wrenching battles that take place as players fight to make the team.
The Packers suited up 90 players last night, so many that 10 players shared numbers (including Andrew Datko and Daniel Muir, who both wore 77). By opening game, the front office will have cut 37 players from the squad, many of whom will never step on a professional football field again.
Only half of the 12 defensive linemen who suited up last night will make the team. Two of those players provided an interesting contrast from our vantage point behind the home team bench.
Mike Neal, a veteran defensive end who missed 26 of the first 28 possible games of his NFL career due to injuries, spent most of the evening sitting on a cooler, literally on ice. Suspended without pay for the first four games of the regular season but, through a weird quirk of NFL rules, still eligible to play through the pre-season, Neal looked despondent and only saw action briefly in the third quarter.
Meanwhile, rookie Jerel Worthy played hard. In his first series, he knocked a player’s helmet off with the force of his hit. In the humbling rhythm that is rookie football, Worthy missed a key block two plays later, but we still think he’ll be an impact player this season.
Neal, on the other hand, will struggle to keep his jersey. His suspension means Neal does not count against the 53-man roster, so we don’t think the Packers will cut him yet. They just don’t have to.
In his short game appearance, Neal held his ground on a goal line stand. Sadly, though, we think he knows his days are a Green Bay Packer are winding down.
I shot a little video of our pleasant Tundra Line surprise.