Johnny Jolly not giving in

August, 1, 2013
8/01/13
7:31
PM ET
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Green Bay Packers left guard Josh Sitton offered three words to sum up Johnny Jolly.

"He's all in," Sitton said after Thursday's practice.

That's why it took no one by surprise that Jolly was back on the field that morning, less than 24 hours after injured an ankle near the end of Wednesday's practice. When you've been banished from the NFL for three seasons, served prison time and fought a drug addiction, what's a little ankle sprain?

[+] EnlargeJohnny Jolly
AP Photo/Morry GashJohnny Jolly knows this is probably his last chance to resurrect his NFL career.
The reality for Jolly, who at age 30 is back with the team that picked him in the sixth round of the 2006 draft, is that this is probably his final shot at resurrecting a playing career. How many other teams even would have brought him back after he was arrested three times for possession of codeine dating to 2008 and admitted an addiction to the drug?

But when NFL commissioner Roger Goodell reinstated Jolly this spring, the Packers took him back under a renegotiated reduction in salary ($715,000 with none of it guaranteed unless he makes the Week 1 roster) in part, general manager Ted Thompson admitted this week, because of how well-liked Jolly was in the locker room.

And he won additional points Thursday by coming back soon quickly from his injury.

"I would say that's a man that's hungry and fighting for a job and understands that there's competition up front," Packers defensive line coach Mike Trgovac said. "He understands that if he doesn't get his reps, somebody else is going to get them. He's been around the NFL long enough to know that if you let somebody else get your reps, somebody else might look good."

Jolly still has work to do and weight to shed in order to get back to his 2009 playing weight of 325 pounds, and Trgovac has him on a snap count for at least the first week of training camp. Yet in his limited work, Jolly has shown some of the power and quickness that made him so effective in 2008 and 2009, when he was a full-time starter. During the one-on-one pass rushing drills so far in camp, Jolly has a respectable 4-5 record.

"He's come back, and he seems to be extremely dedicated to coming in here and making the team and helping this team out," said Sitton, who regularly goes against Jolly in practice. "His energy's been great. He's big, and he's still got a little bit of wiggle. You can tell that he's not 100 percent like where he used to be, but I think that will come with time."

However, it's reasonable to ask if after three years away from the game, a single training camp is enough time.

"He's mentioned to me that he's not seeing [the game] as fast right now, and he will," Trgovac said. "He's had a long layoff, and he'll see it fast."

There's been so much roster turnover since Jolly last played in an NFL game (Jan. 10, 2010 in an NFC wild-card playoff game at Arizona), that the Packers now have plenty of other options. Younger options. Of the nine other defensive linemen in camp with the Packers, only two -- Ryan Pickett and B.J. Raji -- were even with the Packers the last time Jolly was an active player.

At this point, Jolly may rank only seventh-best among the team's defensive linemen in camp. Last year, the Packers opened the season with just six on their 53-man roster and dressed only five in Week 1.

"He was a helluva lineman before," Sitton said, "and I think he can be again."

Rob Demovsky

ESPN Green Bay Packers reporter

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Comments

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on ESPN's media platforms. Learn more.


Insider

NFL SCOREBOARD

Thursday, 8/21
Friday, 8/22
Saturday, 8/23
Sunday, 8/24
WEEKLY LEADERS