GREEN BAY, Wis. — By the look on Desmond Bishop’s face as he was helped off the field in the Packers’ preseason opener on Thursday, it was obvious Green Bay’s leading tackler was concerned that his injury was serious.
As it turns out, Bishop was right to worry.
“Unfortunately, the hamstring injury was what we feared,” coach Mike McCarthy said of Bishop following Saturday night’s practice. “Surgery is imminent. Desmond’s season is in jeopardy. Once we have the surgery, we’ll probably have a better idea of his status for this season.”
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Bishop has been one of the Packers starting inside linebackers for the past two seasons, including during their Super Bowl run in 2010. Despite missing three games last season due to calf injuries, Bishop still finished 13th in the NFL in tackles and was second on the team in sacks.
“Personally, I feel terrible,” McCarthy said. “It’s a very unusual injury if you’ve had a chance to watch it on film. It’s unfortunate. Everybody knows the type of player Desmond is for us. He puts so much into it and after last year with his calf injuries, I know he was really looking forward to having a big year.
“It’s never a good time when you see one of your players get hurt and their season that is in jeopardy.”
Bishop also suffered a knee sprain on the play, but it was the hamstring where the significant damage was done.
Before making a final decision on Bishop’s status for the 2012 season, McCarthy said the team will be exploring every option. That includes using the the new, soon-to-be-adapted NFL rule that allows one player on each team to be added to the injured reserve list and still return to the field after Week 6.
“Frankly, the medical information will drive that decision,” McCarthy said. “It’s important, once (Dr.) Pat (McKenzie) goes in there, to see exactly what he’s dealing with.”
In Bishop’s absence, the Packers will turn to second-year inside linebacker D.J. Smith, a sixth-round pick of Green Bay’s in 2011 who had a very good rookie season. Smith excelled in the three games he started while Bishop was out last season and has followed that up with a consistently strong performances so far in training camp.
This wasn’t the only bad news on the Packers injury front coming out of their first preseason game. Davon House, a second-year cornerback who had soared up the depth chart in training camp to take a lead in the competition for a starting job, also may miss some serious time.
“Davon House has a shoulder injury and he will be out probably two to three weeks, and then at that time we’ll make a long-term decision,” McCarthy said.
House entered training camp behind both Jarrett Bush and Sam Shields to see who would start at right outside cornerback opposite 2010 Pro Bowler Tramon Williams. It only took a few days for House to be starting in the nickel defense, and he was soon also starting in Green Bay’s 3-4 base defense.
Prior to the injury Thursday against the Chargers, House was also having a terrific game in coverage in San Diego. Now, he’ll have to wait and see what his next step is.
“It’s shoulder (subluxation), so you have to go through a two-to-three week period to make sure it’s settled down, and at that time the option of playing with a harness or potential surgery is really what we’re looking at,” McCarthy said. “Two to three weeks and how he responds to the rehab will be a big part of the decision.”
Surgery is clearly not a preferable option, but wearing a shoulder harness is also not ideal, especially for a big, physical cornerback like House.
“It’s tough to do as a (defensive back); that’s not one of the positions you want to be putting a harness on your players because obviously the limitations it gives to the joint,” McCarthy said.
As the early favorites to win Super Bowl XLVII, the Packers already have significant injuries to overcome in order to win their second championship in three years.