GREEN BAY – Rajion Neal hears the clock ticking. And with only one more practice and one more preseason game left before final cuts, the Green Bay Packers rookie running back realizes he’s out of time.
After bursting onto the scene in the preseason opener at Tennessee, where he ran five times for 39 yards and a touchdown, Neal has been shelved since by a knee injury he suffered during the Packers’ loss to the Titans. An undrafted rookie free agent from the University of Tennessee, it looked like he might challenge for a roster spot in the Packers’ deep backfield, but now he will be fortunate to land on the practice squad – if he’s healthy enough to do so.
“It definitely is in the back of my mind that time is dwindling away, but at the same time, it’s almost out of my hands now,” Neal said. “I’m just trying to enjoy the moment, enjoy the process and enjoy being here for the time that I am.”
After the injury, Neal vowed to play the following week at St. Louis, but that didn’t happen. Now, he’s spent every practice as a spectator and hasn’t been able to build on his solid start.
“The initial [reaction] was his excitement and wanting to play and so forth, but it’s going to be a couple weeks,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. “The optimism’s low.”
While the injury has derailed his roster bid, Neal said he believes he’s proven – to himself more than anyone – that he can play at the NFL level.
“I think I’ve done some things that have definitely solidified to myself that I can play here, but I don’t think I’ve done enough just yet to prove to the organization to take a bid on me just yet,” Neal said. “I know I’ve still got some things I need to do and some things I need to show.”
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