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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Injury Update: Free agent Johnny Jolly still not cleared

By on 3/19/2014 11:30:00 AM

Free agent defensive lineman Johnny Jolly, who had neck fusion surgery in January to repair a bulging disc (C-5 vertebra) in his neck, is not fully cleared to participate in workouts and that has teams wary of the former Green Bay Packer.

At the beginning of the season, Jolly felt weakness in his arm but played through it.  Officially listed as a shoulder injury suffered in a December 15 game against the Dallas Cowboys, Jolly missed the rest of the season due to the bulging disc.

With surgery in January, reports surfaced that Jolly would be cleared before the start of free agency.  Jolly’s agent, Jack Bechta, spoke in late February about Jolly's progress saying he had began "light exercises" and will have another magnetic resonance imaging test in early March.“I talked to the Packers [last week] about Johnny at the combine, and they said they love him,” Bechta said. “They’re just in a wait-and-see mode.”

Jolly's surgery is the same type of surgery performed on teammates Sean Richardson and Jermichael Finley. 

Fast forward to March 18 and Bechta has stated that Jolly will have to wait "a few more weeks" for clearance.  Bechta points out that Jolly has received clearance for his neck, but doctors are waiting on a bone graft surgeons had to take from his hip as part of the neck fusion operation.

Jolly's struggles to return to the NFL after suspension for substance abuse and jail time are well documented and from all accounts, he has been a great teammate.  At the time of his injury, fellow teammate Ryan Pickett had this to say about Jolly:
It hurts that he’s not being able to play, but he’ll bounce back.  We believe he’ll bounce back. If anyone can fight through anything, it’s Jolly. His spirits are good. He’s been a leader out there. He’s been playing great. He’s been a whole lot. We’re going to miss him out there for sure.
Teams are melancholy on Jolly right now, but once he is cleared, there should be some buzz about his services.  How much buzz is the question?  Jolly is now in his 30s and though he is a solid player, prior to the injury he was just a rotational DL.

Some team will get happy on Jolly at some point (the Packers may even re-sign him) but when and for what price, well I guess we are back into wait-and-see mode.

You can follow me on twitter @JAFOScottRyan



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