Mike Pennel’s suspension is over but his career will have to continue elsewhere.
The Green Bay Packers released the talented but twice-suspended defensive tackle on Monday. Monday was the deadline for the Packers to add him to the active roster or move on without him.
The timing was noteworthy because the Packers could have used the 6-foot-4, 332-pound Pennel’s run-stopping ability for Sunday’s NFC divisional playoff game at Dallas. Cowboys rookie Ezekiel Elliott ran away with the league’s rushing title with 1,631 yards — more than 300 yards ahead of runner-up Jordan Howard. Elliott finished third with 15 rushing touchdowns and sixth with 5.07 yards per carry.
Pennel played in eight games, sandwiched between four-game suspensions to start and finish the regular season for violations of the NFL’s substance-abuse policy. When he did play, he made a difference. According to league data, Green Bay allowed 1.33 yards less per carry when Pennel was on the field compared to when he was off the field. He recorded eight tackles (six solos).
“2016 wasn’t too good of a year, but I’m just glad I got playing time in there and in the games I did play I found some success,” Pennel said on Wednesday. “Coming from the beginning of training camp and working so hard to come back, missing out on eight games, that’s a disappointment for anyone. Hopefully just put it behind me and continue my career.”
Pennel’s first game of the season was against Dallas following his season-opening suspension. He played in 12 snaps in that game and a total of 102 in the eight games.
When he spoke to reporters last week, he said “it would mean everything” to get a chance to suit up in the playoffs. Instead, he’ll hope to get another chance elsewhere to resurrect a career that showed such promise. Pennel started five games last season, his second after going undrafted in 2014 out of Colorado State-Pueblo.
Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PackerReport.