Packers Position Battles: Still No Clarity for Inside Linebacker Starters

Leon Halip

For all the good news that has come out of training camp, there’s some reason for pessimism regarding ILBs Desmond Bishop and Brad Jones.

With minicamp now begun in earnest and OTAs in the rear view mirror, it would seem a good time to revisit the highly anticipated camp competition at inside linebacker.

Unfortunately, two of the important players in this battle have already missed significant time.

Desmond Bishop, the Packers' best inside linebacker since 2010, is still recovering from the torn hamstring that cost him all of last season. Green Bay's coaching staff was also hoping to get an extended look at Brad Jones, who signed a new deal worth $11.75 million extension over 3 years this offseason. Jones had his best year as a pro in 2012 when he replaced the injured D.J. Smith, Bishop's initial replacement. Unfortunately, Jones missed Wednesday's minicamp practice, presumably with some sort of injury that was not disclosed at or after practice.

Each linebacker is capable of providing something unique to the position group. Since moving inside, Jones developed into the Packers' best coverage linebacker. With the glut of quality tight ends and slot receivers Green Bay will face, having a linebacker who can keep up is critical.

Bishop, on the other hand, is perhaps the Packers most physical front seven player. Despite playing in a position that rarely gets in the backfield in Green Bay's defensive scheme, Bishop has 29 hurries, 8 quarterback hits, and 9 sacks since taking over for Nick Barnett in 2010. He's critical to slowing down opposing rushers, many of whom had a field day in his absence. Bishop believes he will return better than ever, perhaps as a Defensive Player of the Year candidate. While that's unlikely, the Packers probably need to get something out of Bishop for their defense to improve.

So how worried are you about the inside linebacker injuries? Sound off in the comments and keep your internet machine tuned to Acme Packing Company for more minicamp news.

Jason Hirschhorn covers the Green Bay Packers for Acme Packing Co. He has previously written for Lombardi Ave, College Hoops Net, LiveBall Sports, and the List Universe. He is also currently a senior writer for Beats Per Minute, an indie-music webzine. Follow him on Twitter: @JBHirschhorn

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