SAN DIEGO, CA - NOVEMBER 06: Desmond Bishop #55 of the Green Bay Packers celebrates his sack of Philip Rivers #17 of the San Diego Chargers during the fourth quarter at Qualcomm Stadium on November 6, 2011 in San Diego, California. The Packers won 45-38. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
If you missed the news yesterday, Green Bay Packers inside linebacker Desmond Bishop has been placed on injured reserve. NFL owners previously debated a rule change that would have allowed one player to come off injured reserve after eight weeks, which would have made placing Bishop on IR a no-brainer. That rule never went into effect, putting the Packers into a tough spot. Bishop's torn hamstring was likely to keep him out for almost all of the regular season, but there's an excellent chance he will be healthy by the time the playoffs roll around.
Instead, Bishop is done for the year and D.J. Smith has become a full-time starter. Robert Francois is now a virtual lock to make the roster, Terrell Manning has new life, and the coaching staff is probably thrilled that they gave some time to Brad Jones and Jamari Lattimore on the inside during the summer. The Packers' depth inside is solid, but Bishop is an absolutely massive loss. Everyone was hopeful that he would return late in the season when he sustained the injury, and everyone's hopes were unfortunately misguided.
All summer long, a number of fans sang the praises of Smith and believed that he should enter an open competition with A.J. Hawk for a starting place. Smith was quick to quiet those calls for a competition, stating that he had been learning Bishop's position and that he was strictly Bishop's backup, not in competition with Hawk. At least we can be thankful that the staff had him learning that position all along instead of competing with Hawk.
I have all of the faith in the world in D.J. Smith and I think he's going to be a very solid starting inside linebacker. It's obviously too far away to debate about, but one has to guess that Bishop will make a full recovery and that both players will have a chance to win a job next season. While this is terrible news for the immediate future of the Packers and Bishop, it might help the team a year or more down the road, when Smith has learned from the experience that he wouldn't have gotten otherwise.
Even though no one expected Bishop to play in the first half of the season, I didn't expect him to go on IR yesterday. The reality of the situation took about 24 hours to hit me, and now I'm just kind of sad. One of my favorite Packers, a guy who looks like he's giving it everything he has on every single down, will not play a single snap of football this season. It hurts, but the games go on.
Hopefully D.J. Smith is ready to fill Bishop's shoes. Even though the loss of Bishop hurts, I think that he is.
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