Johnny Jolly suspended for the entire 2010 season, but Packers have options

GREEN BAY, WI - SEPTEMBER 09: Johnny Jolly #97 of the Green Bay Packers sits on the bench during a game against the Philadelphia Eagles on September 9, 2007 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Packers defeated the Eagles 16-13. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Usually when a team loses a starter for the entire season, it’s viewed as a massive problem. But even though the Packers lost defensive end Johnny Jolly for the entire 2010 season, they have options to replace him.

First the bad: Jolly has been suspended by the NFL for the entire 2010 season after reports surfaced in June that he’s a major player in the Houston drug game. What does that mean? Only that Jolly allegedly bought, sold, funded, transported and aided in the buying, selling, funding and transportation of illegal narcotics (including cocaine and marijuana) in Harris County from 2006 through May of 2008 according to Greg Bedard of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Dude has been busy.

Now the good: The Packers obviously had been expecting to be without Jolly this season because they’ve already moved Ryan Pickett to Jolly’s position and drafted ends Mike Neal and C.J. Wilson last April. They also still have Justin Harrell on their roster, although at this point in his career, if the grounds crew at Lambeau Field left a sprinkler head poking out of the ground it would be more effective than the former 2007 first round pick.

Granted, none of the above options look better than Jolly on paper, but it’s not like he’s coming off a particularly strong ’09 season. A 3-4 defensive end’s biggest job is to occupy as many offensive linemen as he can in order to keep them off his linebackers and Jolly wasn’t very effective in that category last year. He also struggled a tad against the run, which is something Pickett might be more versed with seeing as how he’s used to playing inside.

While it’s never advantageous to lose a starter, give GM Ted Thompson credit for preparing for the worst when it came to Jolly’s situation and setting Mike McCarthy up with options at the defensive end position. It appears as though Jolly has spent his last days in Green Bay, so maybe Neal or Wilson will emerge as a long-term option, or at the very least, Pickett can help bridge the gap until Thompson can find someone else.

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