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Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Packers: Wells a free agent, Neal suspended

By Kevin Seifert

The free agent market opened without an agreement between the Green Bay Packers and center Scott Wells, increasing the possibility that Wells will sign elsewhere in the coming days. (Bill Huber of Scout.com, in fact, suggests it's a done deal.)

But the start of the new league year did bring the Packers some news: Defensive end Mike Neal has been suspended for the first four games of the 2012 season for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing substances.

The suspension is another roadblock in Neal's disappointing tenure with the Packers. A second-round pick in 2010, injuries have limited him to nine games and a total of six tackles in two seasons. And the announcement comes at a time when the Packers are almost certainly looking for options to enhance their pass rush, be it at Neal's defensive end position or at outside linebacker.

There's no reason to think the Packers will cut ties with Neal, but it's grown almost impossible to count on him as the full-time starter they envisioned him as when veteran defensive end Cullen Jenkins departed last year. Now more than ever, defensive end is one of the Packers' most notable weaknesses.