Green Bay Packers defensive end Johnny Jolly was not exactly a long shot to the make the 53-man roster. However, there is no question the 30-year-old had plenty to prove if he wanted the Packers to take him seriously. The good news is the defensive lineman is prepared to make the most of his new opportunity after being suspended by the league indefinitely in 2009. More importantly, he understands that making the roster is just one step of many.
“I haven’t celebrated because I’ve got nothing to celebrate about,” Jolly said, according to USA Today Sports. “I’ve still got something to prove. As a team, we want to win the Super Bowl, and it starts this week.”
To say the Packers are thrilled about Jolly’s presence on the team is an understatement. The players, coaches and fans were all pulling for the fifth-year player to make the squad. Now that he is an official member of the team, they want to see him dominate as he did back in 2009.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers is one person in particular that believes Jolly changes the entire dynamic of the team. The defense has been lacking intensity in recent years, but Jolly is the type of player that can give the physical edge Green Bay needs to be competitive.
“Johnny Jolly. In all seriousness, that’s a big part of it,” Rodgers said, according to ESPN.com. “Having him back, he brings a lot of energy, he brings that confidence to the defense, some nasty to them. But at the same time I think if you really step back, and those of us who played with him, you really have an appreciation for what’s gone through and how he’s responded to that adversity. He really is enjoying this opportunity and embracing the fact that this is such a privilege to play in this league. His attitude and his approach has made an impact on a lot of guys, myself, a lot of guys his (defensive line) room.”
Jolly has a chance to not only have a big impact on the field, but in the locker room as well. Along with other defensive standouts, he can be an emotional leader that the younger players look up to. There is no question he has dealt with his fair share of hardships. However, it is how he overcame them that will standout this season, especially if he performs at a high level. That alone can be enough for a team to dig down deep and play their best football when it matters most.