Desmond Bishop has been a blessing for the Packers : Packers Insider

Desmond Bishop has been a blessing for the Packers

November 4, 2010 by  
Filed under News

Nov 5, 2010 ~ by Rob Reischel

Green Bay — Every game, every series, every play, Desmond Bishop is becoming a richer man. Just who will be writing the checks remains to be seen.

Bishop, a fourth-year inside linebacker for the Green Bay Packers, is in the final year of his rookie contract. Bishop also is getting the first extended playing time of his career and has made the most of it.

Bishop was thrust into the starting lineup when Nick Barnett suffered a season-ending wrist injury in Week 4. Since then, Bishop has been one of Green Bay’s top players on defense.

In the last four games, Bishop’s 50 tackles are tops on the team. His 32-yard interception return for a touchdown against Minnesota on Oct. 24 was the first touchdown by a Green Bay linebacker in more than five years.

And while Bishop continues to shine, his price tag goes up and up and up.

“My time (to get paid) will come,” Bishop said recently. “I’ve always said that and always felt that way. Right now, I’m just trying to continue playing good football.

Miami's Karlos Dansby, the top inside linebacker in free agency last year, signed a five-year, $43 million deal that will pay him $9.7 million this season. Bishop won't get that kind of money, but a contract in the $5 million range is certainly possible.

“I’ve got a chance to make a name for myself here, and I’m just trying to make the most of it.”

Bishop, a sixth-round draft choice in 2007, has been waiting for this chance his entire career. And right now, he’s tackling it with vigor.

Bishop’s 10 tackles were a team-high Sunday, when Green Bay’s defense was magnificent in a 9-0 upset of the host New York Jets.

Bishop has now recorded double digit tackle totals in each of his four starts, and he led the Packers in tackles in three of those four games.

“I like the way he’s played,” Packer defensive coordinator Dom Capers said of Bishop. “He’s played good football for us. He’s made timely plays. I think he’s been physical in terms of taking on blockers, done a good job of tackling.

“As is with every game, there’s three, four plays you’d like to have back. It’s never going to be perfect. But I think he’s done a good job, and I think he’s played winning football for us.”

Bishop has insisted for quite some time he could play “winning football,” and he hasn’t been shy about telling people. After three years of mostly watching, Bishop was outspoken this summer saying he’d welcome a trade if the Packers couldn’t find a spot for him.

Bishop also insisted he’d be a starter if he wasn’t drafted in the sixth round.

“Hell yes,” he said back in August. “Oh man. Wow. You have no idea. It’s life. It’s politics. It sucks. Oh man, it sucks.”

The Packers gave Bishop every chance to win a spot in their nickel defense during training camp, but he failed to take advantage. So when the year opened, it looked like most of Bishop’s contributions would again come on special teams.

That changed when the Packers suffered a dizzying array of injuries at the linebacker position. In addition to Barnett, Brady Poppinga (knee) and Brad Jones (shoulder) were lost for the year, while Brandon Chillar (shoulder) and Clay Matthews (hamstring) also missed time.

Bishop has played every bit as well as Barnett, though, helping the defense not only stay afloat, but prosper.

“I am sure (Bishop) felt that he was ready a long time ago, and it’s all part of the course that we are on as a football team,” Packer coach Mike McCarthy said. “When players get opportunities, they step up and play. Desmond is making a lot of plays out there, very productive.”

The two knocks on Bishop have always been speed and coverage skills.

Bishop ran the 40-yard dash in just 4.82 seconds at the 2007 NFL combine. And throughout his career, Bishop has struggled to stay with tight ends.

Bishop has always argued he can make up for a lack of foot speed with angles, anticipation and film study. And you’d have to say Bishop was correct after he made the play of the game in Green Bay’s Week 7 win over Minnesota.

In the third quarter, Minnesota quarterback Brett Favre rolled to his left and wanted wideout Randy Moss in the flat. Bishop had tight coverage underneath on Moss, and Favre tried to suck Bishop in with a pump fake.

Bishop didn’t bite. And when Favre threw to Moss, Bishop made the interception and raced 32 yards for a touchdown to give the Packers a 28-17 lead in the 28-24 win.

“(Moss) did a route that I’ve seen over and over on film,” Bishop said. “When he broke out, I looked back at Favre and he pumped. I knew he wanted to go there, then he started feeling a little bit of pressure.

“It was just kind of typical Favre trying to squeeze something in, and it wasn’t there.”

Bishop has also been stout against the run, highlighted by a 16-tackle effort against Miami in Week 6. If Bishop keeps this up, and the next collective bargaining agreement returns to the four-year requirement for unrestricted free agency, he could be a wealthy man.

Bishop’s rookie deal was for four years and $1.795 million. This year, Bishop’s base salary is $550,000.

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