Linebacker Desmond Bishop has practiced in pads only twice so far in training camp, but it's been impossible not to notice him.
For the second straight night, Bishop turned in a couple of highlights in the team (11-on-11) drills. Dropping into coverage, he cut in front of tight end Tom Crabtree for a spectacular diving interception, perhaps the most impressive interception any defender has made in camp. Then on the very next play, he blitzed inside and got to the quarterback for a sack.
"Desmond is definitely an individual who has big-play ability," Head Coach Mike McCarthy said after Monday night's practice, the shortest of training camp at just one hour, 45 minutes. "I think he's clearly classified as one of our better pressure players, so you definitely feel the impact when he's on the field. It's great to have him back."
Bishop's fresh legs may have something to do with his immediate impact. A starter the past two seasons, Bishop began training camp on the physically unable to perform list with a calf injury, missed the first five practices, worked out in shells twice and then participated in warm ups only last Friday, but did not scrimmage on Family Night.
He said before practice on Sunday, his first in full pads, that "there's no taking it easy," and he was going to crank up the intensity from the get-go. He made his presence felt most on Sunday in a goal-line period when he laid out fullback Nic Cooper with a big hit and then stuffed James Starks in the hole on the ensuing snap.
"He has a complete understanding of the defense," McCarthy said. "He's an excellent base and sub player. It's definitely a little different with Desmond on the field, no doubt."
It was with Aaron Rodgers, too, after he took a veteran's night off Sunday. A couple days' rest after Family Night didn't create any rust, as Rodgers lofted a perfect throw to tight end Jermichael Finley in the back corner of the end zone and then zipped one to Jordy Nelson for a tip-toe catch along the end line on consecutive red-zone snaps. Later, Rodgers rolled to his right and fired to a diving Donald Driver for another score.
McCarthy cut the aerial show short, though, because of the team's lengthy injury list. Cornerback Sam Shields (elbow) and running back Brandon Saine (hamstring) both left practice, and McCarthy already declared eight players out for Thursday's preseason opener in San Diego. They are running back Du'ane Bennett (knee), offensive linemen Ray Dominguez (ankle) and Mike McCabe (hip), receiver Tori Gurley (groin), fullback Jon Hoese (hamstring), receiver Greg Jennings (concussion) and tight ends Eric Lair (knee) and Ryan Taylor (concussion).
McCarthy said left tackle Marshall Newhouse (concussion) still has a chance to play and would be re-evaluated Tuesday morning. Herb Taylor took Newhouse's place with the No. 1 offensive line again on Monday.
Tight end D.J. Williams (back) and defensive tackle Mike Daniels (knee, groin) both missed practice again, though neither was on McCarthy's "out" list. Rookie receiver Dale Moss also missed practice, but his injury was not mentioned.
Monday was the last of nine installation practices, with Tuesday's 3:30 p.m. workout slated to focus on the San Diego game.
Coincidentally, McCarthy's first preseason game as a head coach back in 2006 was in San Diego – against his coaching mentor, Marty Schottenheimer – and it couldn't have gone much worse. The Packers started two rookies at guard in that game, and McCarthy's memories are …
"Not positive," he said, able to crack a smile at the 17-3 defeat that was probably more lopsided than the score indicated. "I remember the first three plays; I think our quarterback was hit two of the three.
"I definitely remember the game, and I remember Marty Schottenheimer slapping me on the back and saying, 'Kid, don't worry, it gets better.' And I said, 'Hell, I sure hope so.' Long night."
The Packers were just in San Diego last season, of course, pulling out a 45-38 barnburner that wasn't decided until the final minute.
"This will be a good challenge for us, it always is," McCarthy said. "You only have to point to last year's game out there in the regular season to tell you what the competition will be like." Related links