Jclombardi highlights Packers headlines.
Guest senior writer jclombardi @ http://lombardiave.com
Bishop gets chance: In Bishop, the Packers have an experienced and eager fourth-year player. Bishop likely will line up next to A.J. Hawk on the inside. It will be a tough assignment. The Redskins have a threat downfield in tight ends Chris Cooley and Fred Davis. That means Bishop, as well as the other linebackers, need to be prepared. And Bishop will essentially be playing his personal season opener since all he’s had to date is a lot of practice. Bishop said. “Since I am mostly a scout team guy, I go against Aaron Rodgers at practice and cover Jermichael Finely and sometimes end up on Donald Driver or Greg Jennings.” He hopes that has prepared him for a regular role. Bishop will have to make sure he is sound in his coverage dropping back. With Bishop’s preparation and ability to make physically punishing tackles, assistant coach Winston Moss sees no issues with Bishop stepping in for the first time this season because of his experience.
Injuries no excuse: While linebacker Barnett weighs whether long-term damage to his wrist is worth continuing his “XLV or die” quest for the Super Bowl, and right tackle Tauscher considers playing Sunday despite having not practiced all week because of a shoulder injury, the Packers are hoping that their run of bad luck on injury front is ending. Packers coach McCarthy said Friday that four players–Barnett, linebacker Chillar (shoulder), No. 3 cornerback Shields (calf) and backup fullback Johnson (glute)–ruled out for Sunday’s game at Washington, while Tauscher is listed as doubtful. “But once again, no excuses. Everybody goes through it,” said McCarthy, whose team has already lost running back Ryan Grant (ankle) and starting strong safety Morgan Burnett (torn anterior cruciate ligament) to season-ending injuries. “We just have had a lot come on us so fast.
Nelson gets 2nd chance: After their kickoff return unit performed well in the three season-opening games, coach Mike McCarthy has decided to stick with Jordy Nelson as his returner despite last week’s two turnovers. Among players with eight kickoff returns, Nelson ranks 14th with a 24.3-yard average per runback. He’s tied for fifth with 11 returns of 20-plus yards. “We have things to build on,” Nelson said. “The guys up front have been doing a great job. I just need to continue to do what I was doing and not put the ball on the ground and keep putting our offense in a good situation. Hopefully, that continues, and we’ll get a big one.” Nelson had lost one fumble during his first two NFL seasons, then coughed it up twice last week against the Lions. Special teams coordinator Shawn Slocum wants Nelson to concentrate more on running with the ball higher and tighter against his body.
Notebook–World of Hurt on Defense: The Packers will be without four of their top 13 defenders at Washington. However, there is some good news. A source told Packer Report that Barnett hasn’t ruled out playing this season, LB Chillar says he’ll be OK, and RT Tauscher has a shot at starting. The bad news: Inside linebackers Nick Barnett and Brandon Chillar have been ruled out for Sunday’s game at Washington. Now, the good news: Contrary to an ESPN report from earlier in the week, Barnett hasn’t ruled out playing again this season with an injured wrist, a source told Packer Report on Friday. And contrary to a local report that Chillar had a serious shoulder injury, the linebacker told reporters after Friday’s practice that he plans on playing “sooner rather than later.” Washington to be a test for Packers’ only veteran inside linebackers, A.J. Hawk and Desmond Bishop, with talented tight ends Chris Cooley and Fred Davis. But at least the news isn’t dire.