Johnny Jolly became an integral part of the Packers' defensive tackle rotation on his return to the NFL.
Jeff Hanisch/Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
GREEN BAY, Wis. — Johnny Jolly’s first season back in the NFL after a three-year suspension will end prematurely. The shoulder injury that Jolly suffered in Sunday’s game is more serious than what the Green Bay Packers’ 30-year-old defensive lineman originally thought.
"Johnny Jolly suffered a significant injury," coach Mike McCarthy said Thursday. "We got the report last night, so that’s why Johnny is declared out."
Jolly informed a few of his teammates about the news via text message Wednesday night.
"He’s a starter that we lost," B.J. Raji said. "That in and of itself is a huge blow. He was in that position for a reason. Emotionally it’s big, too. Hopefully he’s able to bounce back from this and he can be around when he can."
Jolly, who served six months in prison from November 2011 to May 2012, was reinstated by the NFL in February 2013. The Packers gave him a chance to resurrect his career, but it seemed unlikely that Jolly would be able to pick up where he left off. But Jolly did just that, making the team after a productive training camp and starting eight games this season.
"He showed his true character, man," Raji said. "He was obviously at the bottom of his professional career and his life, and what he was able to do is admirable. It’s unfortunate what happened to him, but he’s a strong guy. I’m more than certain he’ll bounce back."
Jolly, officially listed at 325 pounds, played about 33 percent of Green Bay’s defensive snaps this season and had 21 tackles. Teaming up with the Packers’ other two big defensive linemen — Raji and veteran Ryan Pickett — on running situations, Jolly’s overall contribution was a positive. However, Green Bay’s run defense struggled, currently ranked 25th in the NFL.
Jolly’s presence in the locker room was perhaps just as meaningful as what he did on the field, though.
"It’s a huge blow, man," Pickett said. "Jolly is a good player, he’s a really good player â¦ Off the field, he’s an energy in the huddle. He’s a great guy, a great player. It’s going to be tough without him."
Jolly has not been placed on injured reserve yet, but that move will likely come before Sunday’s game against Pittsburgh.