Last offseason when defensive lineman Johnny Jolly was reinstated by the National Football League after being suspended due to violating the league’s substance abuse policy, few thought he would ever contribute on the football field again in a real way.
It seemed unlikely that Jolly would ever play in the league again. Even when the Packers took a chance and brought him back to training camp, it seemed like a long-shot that he would make the team.
Well, not only did Jolly make the team, he also ended up being a key cog in the Packers run defense, when he was healthy at least.
After earning a spot on the active roster, the former sixth-round draft choice out of Texas A&M in 2006, played in 13 games last season for the Packers, starting eight. He also contributed with 21 tackles, a sack, a pass defensed and a fumble recovery.
It was an extraordinary comeback for a 30-something defensive lineman, who hadn’t played since the 2009 season, when he was 26 years old. Unfortunately, for Jolly his luck ran out as he suffered a neck injury that eventually landed him on injured reserve.
Since then, Jolly has been working hard and rehabbing to get clearance for physical contact and according to a report by PackersNews.com, that clearance could be coming soon.
According to the report, Jolly has been cleared to workout and if all goes well, his agent says he should be ready to resume football activities by the time Packers training camp rolls around in July.
So what does this mean for Jolly’s future with the Packers?
Well it would seem unlikely that the Packers would need him after signing free agent defensive tackle Letroy Guion from the Vikings, as well as the re-signing of B.J. Raji.
However, even with those players in the fold, head coach Mike McCarthy has continued to indicate he wants Jolly back.
“Yeah, if it definitely works out, I mean we’re monitoring that,” McCarthy said. “I think Johnny did a nice job last year. You have to be very pleased for where he started and where he finished. I think he gave us every inch of what he had and then some. I was very pleased with Johnny’s contribution last year.”
Therefore, it seems health is the only thing holding back a new deal between the Packers and Jolly, meaning if the big man is cleared medically, there is a very good chance you will see him back in Green Bay in 2014.