Packers Injuries: Bishop’s Pass Rushing Tough to Replace

Desmond Bishop

Packers LB Desmond Bishop is helped off the field after huring his knee Thursday in an exhibition game against the Chargers.

As the Packers wait for (hopefully good) news about the seriousness of Desmond Bishop’s injury, let’s take a quick look at where the linebacker will be missed most if he’s out for an extended period, or (gulp) the season.

Bishop was one of the few defensive players who made plays in 2011. That’s a vague phrase, but if you watched every Packers game you know what I’m talking about.

Very few Packers defenders flew to the ball last season and actually made something happen at the point of contact. Bishop did, and if he’s out, that playmaking ability will be sorely missed.

D.J. Smith likely will fill in for Bishop. I think Smith has the skills to replace a good chunk of Bishop’s playmaking ability beyond the line of scrimage. If Smith is around the ballcarrier, odds are he’s going to bring him down. He’s a tackling machine.

If you’re a sound tackler, you’re bound to make a few higher impact plays as well. Cause a fumble, lay out a TE going for a catch over the middle, tip away a would-be TD pass. Those types of plays tend to happen for guys who are fundamentally good at football, and I think Smith is fundamentally good at football.

It’s in the other team’s backfield where Bishop will be tough to replace.

Bishop is a good pass rusher. He’s not  known as a pass rusher, but he got after the QB when asked to blitz last season. His five sacks were second on the team and he added a number of QB pressures as well.

When Smith filled in for Bishop in the latter half of 2011, he had no problems tackling. If Smith was around the ballcarrier, the ballcarrier ended up on the ground.

But Smith looked lost when blitzing. He wasn’t a factor at all and usually got swallowed up by a lineman or easily discarded to the outside and away from the play.

If Bishop is out, and Nick Perry or Jerel Worthy don’t immediately help the pass rush, the loss of Bishop is a serious blow. It puts even more pressure on a secondary that struggled to cope with a nonexistent pass rush a season ago.