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Training Camp Report: Bishop Making Push Once Again

Linebacker Desmond Bishop admitted that fielding questions about his strong play during the preseason has become all too familiar the past few years, and once again he is hoping that translates into an increased role on defense once the regular season starts.


Bishop has led the team in tackles during the preseason in two of his three years with the Packers, and he has picked up where he left off from that in the first two days of camp. In the opening practice on Saturday, Bishop delivered the hit of the day when he leveled rookie tight end Andrew Quarless on a short pass over the middle. On Sunday, Bishop picked off a sideline pass from quarterback Matt Flynn intended for wide receiver Donald Driver.

"I think he is having another good camp," Head Coach Mike McCarthy said. "I think he is even really positioning himself to take his game to the next level. We have excellent depth. We have four very good inside linebackers. It clearly was part of our discussions as a defensive staff of making sure we are able to get those guys more involved.

"The challenge is you can only play 11 players at once, but we feel very good about that whole group and Bishop is off to another excellent start of training camp. Very instinctive, tough, hard-nosed football player. I love the way he plays."

Bishop has found his niche as a key special teams contributor with Green Bay, leading the team with a career-high 22 tackles in '09 after making 15 stops the previous season. He saw more time on defense in 2008 because of injuries to Nick Barnett and Brandon Chillar, a career-best 133 snaps, but that number was nearly cut in half last season (67 defensive snaps) as Barnett, Chillar and Hawk handled the workload on the inside.

The majority of his defensive snaps last season came as the fifth linebacker in defensive coordinator Dom Capers' 'Psycho' package, and Bishop is hopeful that his continued production will allow him to see more time in a deep inside-linebacker group.

"Right now I am just a core special teams guy, and special teams is a big part of the team," Bishop said. "If that is how I have to contribute, I want to contribute as much as possible. Of course I want to play defense, but special teams is my calling right now.

"They just tell me to keep going. The coaches are gaining confidence, gaining trust in me, so I have got to just keep going. Hopefully they put in more packages and try to get me in there somehow."

Standing out

Camp is only two days old, but rookie cornerback Sam Shields has been one of Green Bay's newcomers who has stood out with some impressive plays.

Undrafted out of the University of Miami, the speedy Shields figured to factor into the competition for both the punt and kick return spots, but has also flashed at cornerback.

On Saturday, Shields jumped in front of rookie wideout Chastin West to pick off a Matt Flynn pass that would have gone for a score, and also made some pass breakups in one-on-one drills.

"I think he is going to be able to play for us," cornerback Charles Woodson said. "He is making some plays. He definitely runs well. The test for him will be the playbook. There is a lot. We'll have 50 plays in by (Sunday night). Once he gets comfortable just being out there and knowing checks and that sort of thing, I think he'll be pretty good for us."

Shields played wide receiver for his first three seasons at Miami before switching to the other side of the ball for his final year. He posted an 84-yard kick return vs. Wisconsin in the Champs Sports Bowl in 2009 that set up a touchdown, and was named U of M's Special Teams Player of the Year as a junior.

With the depth at cornerback, Shields knows that contributing on special teams will be a must if he hopes to stick on the final roster, and he had some struggles during OTAs fielding the ball as a returner.

"I've just got to keep focusing on catching the ball in practice, showing the coaches that I can field the ball, judging the ball, and things like that," Shields said.

Fantasy land

Aaron Rodgers became the first quarterback in NFL history to throw for more than 4,000 yards in each of his first two seasons as a starter, and that production has garnered him some attention from fans that play fantasy football.

Rodgers, who recently appeared on the cover of ESPN The Magazine's fantasy football preview, said that he receives more comments from fans on the popular activity than any other subject.

"It's some sort of fantasy remark like, 'Hey, thanks for the money you won me,'" Rodgers said. "Or, 'Thanks for the points.' Or, 'I should have drafted you' or 'I shouldn't have drafted you as high as I drafted you.' Or, 'I needed more points against the Bears last year.'

"Any number of comments like that, and it always makes me chuckle."

In addition to his 30 passing touchdowns in '09, Rodgers led all NFL quarterbacks with five rushing touchdowns, the most by a Packers quarterback since Don Majkowski posted the same number in 1989.

"I think my rushing touchdowns, people tell me, is what kind of puts me over the top as far as gathering points," Rodgers said.

Injury/participation updateStarting tackles Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher were given the morning practice off but were back on the field for the night session. With the veterans getting some rest, rookie Bryan Bulaga worked with the first group at left tackle, and Breno Giacomini and T.J. Lang each took reps with the No. 1 line at right tackle in the first practice of the day.

Four players who missed time during the offseason due to injuries, Barnett (knee), wide receiver Brett Swain (knee), defensive end Ronald Talley (knee) and safety Derrick Martin (ankle), were on the one-a-day schedule and only practiced at night. Safety Will Blackmon (knee) sat out the night session as he is also on the one-a-day schedule. 

Linebacker Brad Jones (bruised back) was sidelined for both practices after dropping out of Saturday's practice early. McCarthy said Jones is day-to-day. Veteran Brady Poppinga worked with the No. 1 defense in place of Jones at left outside linebacker.

The three players on the physically unable to perform list, safety Atari Bigby (ankle), cornerback Al Harris (knee) and running back James Starks (hamstring), continued to sit out.

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