Starks, Neal itching to play for Packers

Associated Press Modified: October 6, 2012 at 5:01 am •  Published: October 6, 2012
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Mike Neal is hoping his Indiana homecoming counts for something.

Neal, a native of the Hoosier State, said Friday he secured about 20 tickets for those close to him to attend Sunday's matchup in Indianapolis between the Green Bay Packers and the hometown Colts.

"My friends and family have always been supportive," Neal said. "Me playing or not playing, the big thing is just to be able to see them."

Still, Neal would prefer to be seen in uniform on the Lucas Oil Stadium turf instead of standing on the sideline dressed in sweats.

Neal and Green Bay teammate James Starks are itching to play for the first time this season, but neither player knows whether the long wait will end Sunday, when the Packers (2-2) visit the Colts (1-2).

"I don't know how it's really going to work," Starks said. "I don't know what Coach's got in store."

Coach Mike McCarthy refrained from saying after practice Friday what the status of Starks and Neal would be on game day.

Starks, a running back who led Green Bay in rushing yards last season, feels healthy again after being out since the preseason with a toe injury.

Neal, a defensive end whose young pro career has been marred by injuries, feels he's ready to return to game action after serving a suspension the first four weeks of the season.

"Those decisions will be made after we meet (as coaches) today," McCarthy said. "I really don't want to get into who's up and who's not."

The NFL gave the Packers a one-week roster exemption for Neal, who rejoined the team Monday and resumed practicing Wednesday. So they could wait until after Sunday's game to add Neal to the 53-man roster.

An eager Neal feels he can be of help right away as Green Bay kicks off a stretch of three straight games on the road.

"I feel fine," Neal said. "I'm always in game shape, man. I'm one of them people that I usually work out a lot, and even if I don't I like to get tired, I like to make myself tired. You can never be in perfect shape."

The opinion from the coaches after they watched him the last three days on the practice field is he returned to the team in good physical shape.

Neal was allowed to practice and play in the preseason. But he had to leave the team after the final exhibition game Aug. 30 and begin serving the four-game suspension at the start of the season.

The NFL-imposed suspension stemmed from a violation of the league's policy on performance-enhancing drugs. Neal had been taking the prescription medication Adderall but didn't alert the league of his use of it before he was tested.



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