Desmond Bishop's hamstring injury will require surgery, Mike McCarthy announced on Saturday night, and the starting inside linebacker's season is "in jeopardy."
Bishop injured both his knee and hamstring when he got twisted awkwardly while making a tackle in the first quarter in San Diego on Thursday night. McCarthy said the knee injury is classified as a "sprain," but the hamstring will need to be repaired surgically and a decision on Bishop's status will be made after the procedure.
"It's unfortunate," McCarthy said after a 1-hour, 35-minute practice on Saturday night, the final evening workout of training camp. "Everybody knows the type of player Desmond is for us. He's clearly one of the spiritual-type individuals, (with) the energy he brings to the workplace, and just the way he plays.
"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."
McCarthy said an option with Bishop might be to use the team's one injured reserve exemption, which is a new rule (still needing approval from the players' union) that would allow one player on IR to be designated to return to the active roster after at least half the season. But whether or not Bishop is even a candidate to return this year won't be known until after his surgery.
Either way, second-year pro D.J. Smith now steps into Bishop's starting spot long-term, much as he did in a shorter stint late last season as a rookie. Smith had an interception and averaged 10 tackles per game over a three-game December stretch as a starter, which McCarthy referenced in calling him "ready" for this. Smith also was playing with the No. 1 defense in Bishop's place the first few days in camp while Bishop recovered from a calf strain.
"I think that has prepared me a little bit," Smith said earlier Saturday, before the players had been informed of Bishop's situation. "I know the defense. I'm good with my assignments.
"Everyone is going to make it a group effort to fill that void and we'll see what happens."
Essentially, all the other inside linebackers – Robert Francois, Jamari Lattimore and rookie Terrell Manning – move up one spot on the depth chart now, behind starters A.J. Hawk and Smith.
"It gives others some opportunities on special teams, and this is something the depth in our linebacker group will absorb," McCarthy said. "It's time for those individuals to take advantage."
Shuffling continues in the defensive backfield as well due to cornerback Davon House's shoulder injury. McCarthy said House would go through a two-to-three-week rehab program, after which time a decision would be made whether his shoulder will need surgery, or if he can play with a harness.
"Which is tough to do obviously as a DB," McCarthy said. "That's not one of the positions you want to be putting a harness on your players, because of obviously the limitations it gives to the joint."
McCarthy said House is "eager" to begin the rehab and see where he stands. As time goes on, he'll likely discuss his situation with veteran cornerback Charles Woodson, who played extensively with a shoulder harness for a similar injury back in 2006.
House had been making a strong push for a front-line job in both the base and nickel defenses with an impressive start to camp and in Thursday's game, before the injury. In House's absence, rookie corner Casey Hayward saw a number of snaps with the first units on Saturday night, while a host of other defensive backs – cornerback Jarrett Bush and safeties Jerron McMillian and Anthony Levine among them – took turns in various sub packages as well.
One new injury on defense is to rookie defensive lineman Jerel Worthy, who missed practice on Saturday and is day to day with a knee issue. The good news was fellow rookie lineman Mike Daniels returned to practice.
On the other side of the ball, running back James Starks missed practice with turf toe and is "week to week," according to McCarthy. Also, tight end Jermichael Finley's quad has him "pressed" to be ready for the second preseason game on Thursday vs. Cleveland.
Starting left tackle Marshall Newhouse (concussion) remains out, and his reps with the No. 1 offensive line were split between Herb Taylor and rookie Andrew Datko in Saturday's practice. Tight end Ryan Taylor and receiver Greg Jennings still haven't returned from their concussions, either.
"All three guys are still working through (the protocol)," McCarthy said. "I'd like to think Marshall's close. Ryan is definitely closer than Greg."
At running back, with Starks, Brandon Saine and rookie Du'ane Bennett out, and Alex Green still on a snap count, the position is perilously thin. The same goes for tight end without Finley, Taylor and Andrew Quarless (PUP).
"This is probably the highest number of injuries we've had in camp, and we just have to be smart with our team," McCarthy said.
The players return to a daytime practice schedule beginning with Sunday's 11:15 a.m. workout, which McCarthy anticipated would be shorter than prior camp practices as well. Related links