Unfortunately for Green Bay Packers inside linebacker Desmond Bishop, his 2012 season was quite literally over before it began. Bishop suffered a torn hamstring in the first preseason game of the year, and was placed on injured reserve a few weeks later. Bishop was expected to be the enforcer in the middle, contributing both against the run and in the pass rush.
Bishop had a very good season in most respects two years ago, recording over 120 total tackles and five sacks despite the Packers' defense struggling as a whole to keep opposing offenses from moving up and down the field.. Bishop did give up over 500 passing yards in coverage, however, and will surely look to be better in coverage in 2013.
Bishop's injury left the right inside linebacker job to second-year pro D.J. Smith, who had filled in admirably for Bishop for a few games as a rookie in 2011. Smith didn't seem comfortable in 2012 though, and appeared to struggle before an injury of his own sent him to injured reserve after the week 6 game in Houston. Former outside linebacker Brad Jones started the final twelve games of the year (including playoffs) and helped stabilize the interior of the defense next to 16-game starter A.J. Hawk.
2013 Roster Outlook
With Brad Jones returning to Green Bay, the Packers have four inside linebackers with substantial starting experience: Bishop, Jones, Smith, and A.J. Hawk. Only Hawk has played the left inside position in the Packers' 3-4, however, but all four appear likely to see the field at various times. As such, regaining the starting job by default does not seem like a sure thing for Bishop, and there will likely be some competition in training camp between all four players to see which players are best suited in which situations.
Residual Injury Impact
There will appear to be little impact to Bishop's preparation for the 2013 season, likely due in part to the fact that his injury took place so early in 2012. Before the playoff game against the San Francisco 49ers, Bishop was quoted as saying he was "somewhere between 60 and 80 percent". Then in late February, Bishop's agent had this to say about the linebacker: "He’s getting there. I think he’ll be fully cleared for all of the off-season stuff." With lots of competition likely at inside linebacker, Bishop will need to take advantage of any and every opportunity to make it clear that he's the best option at his position.
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