GREEN BAY, Wis. — The Packers are now down to their third-string inside linebacker. Starter Desmond Bishop was placed on injured reserve with a torn hamstring in preseason, and now his backup, D.J. Smith, will also be out the rest of the season.
Smith suffered what coach Mike McCarthy described as a “serious, serious injury” to his right knee in the second quarter of Green Bay’s 42-24 win in Houston. Near the end of a 3-yard run by Texans running back Arian Foster, Smith had relaxed on the play and did not see Houston offensive lineman Duane Brown approach from his blind side. As Brown made contact for a last-second block, Smith’s knee buckled as he fell to the field.
“It’s something you obviously don’t want to see happen,” McCarthy said Monday. “Was it avoidable? It probably depends what side you’re coaching on. It was an ugly play.”
Brad Jones entered in Smith’s spot and finished out the remainder of the game there. McCarthy and defensive coordinator Dom Capers have other options that could fill in for Smith as well, including 27-year-old Robert Francois and 24-year-old Jamari Lattimore.
“We’ll take the week for game-planning,” McCarthy said. “As far as each player’s role for the coming week, we’ll let you see that on Sunday. We have some ideas. I think the roles for everybody need to be identified in detail because obviously Robert and Brad and Jamari, they all have a lot of special teams responsibility.”
Rookie inside linebacker Terrell Manning, a fifth-round pick out of North Carolina State, is not being considered for any of the snaps available now in Smith’s absence.
“I really like him on special teams,” McCarthy said of Manning. “I think he’s further ahead on special teams than he is on defense.”
Smith wasn’t the only Packer to suffer a season-ending injury in Sunday’s game, as running back Brandon Saine was also placed on injured reserve. General manager Ted Thompson announced the roster move Monday while claiming second-year running back Johnny White off waivers from the Buffalo Bills.
Saine injured his knee on special teams in Houston and had to be carted off the field. Saine, signed by Green Bay as an undrafted rookie out of Ohio State in 2011, had 18 carries last season but had not been in on offense this year.
White was drafted by the Bills in the fifth round in 2011 and posted 38 yards on 12 carries as a rookie. Like Saine, White had been a contributor on special teams and that will likely carry over to his role with the Packers.
There was no news on rookie outside linebacker Nick Perry (left knee) or cornerback Sam Shields (shin), both of whom exited Sunday’s game and were unable to return. However, McCarthy stated that the team would know more about their injury status by Wednesday.
“I saw Nick today (and) he looks good,” McCarthy said. “It’s better than we thought it would be. It was very awkward with the way he fell. Usually that’s not a good sign. We were very fortunate there.”