On the eve of their Week 5 game at Indianapolis, the Green Bay Packers on Saturday made a pair of personnel moves, activating defensive end Mike Neal and releasing fellow defensive lineman Phillip Merling.
Neal was activated from exempt status following a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances.
The 6-foot-3, 294-pounder, who was a second-round draft pick out of Purdue in 2010, insisted he did nothing to warrant his recent suspension, claiming on multiple occasions that he had simply taken physician-prescribed Adderall for attention-deficit disorder.
However, the NFL said it had not been made aware of Neal’s condition when he first began taking his medication, prompting the league-imposed suspension. Neal appealed the suspension to no avail.
Neal, who has been limited to nine games by injuries since he was drafted, said earlier this week that returning to NFL action is akin to “being freed from jail.
“It’s like, ‘OK, now it’s time for me to live my life and do what I do,’ he said. “I’m going to do that.”
As a result of Neal’s return to the active roster, Green Bay parted ways with Merling. A second-round draft pick by the Miami Dolphins in 2008, Merling has failed to produce much in the professional ranks. The 6-5, 315-pound former Clemson Tiger has just 3.5 sacks in five NFL seasons.
After signing with Green Bay as a free agent late last spring, Merling played in three games this year, registering two total tackles.