Senior writer jclombardi highlights Packers Bishop, Peprah & Zombo profiles.
Commentary: For the 2010 NFL Season, three major players stepped up to replace injured starters on the front line Packers defense. Without their stellar performances on defense, the Packers would not be 7-3 with a prime time showdown Sunday against the Falcons. Although LB Bishop is no surprise considering we recommended that he start long ago along with other Packers bloggers in the Packers nation, the steady performances of S Peprah and OLB Zombo are pleasant surprises. Happy holidays!
LB Bishop: Desmond Bishop was one of three 6th round Packer draft choices in 2007. Today, he is Green Bay’s starting middle linebacker and the team’s third leading tackler. And there isn’t a day that goes by that Bishop doesn’t appreciate his good fortune and try to help others whose lives have taken less favorable paths. “It takes you back to the saying, ‘much is given, much is required,” Bishop said. “I feel like I’m in a fortunate situation where I can give back. There was a time in my life and I think in everybody’s life where I needed help. To give back in a situation where you can I think is good.” Bishop is already been a major role model for many kids back at his high school in his native Fairfield, California, which is 40 miles northeast of San Francisco. Bishop uses football as a teaching tool for young people who may be struggling to find their way. “I do a football camp back home in my high school,” Bishop said. “It’s free, I just want to give back, really teach the kids more about football, but also about life, just tell them my journey and let ‘em know if they have a dream, whether it be about football or whatever you want to be, if you want to be a doctor, a lawyer, stick to your dream and do whatever you think is necessary to reach your goals.” While playing college ball at the University of California, Bishop routinely volunteered to serve food to homeless people. While in Green Bay, Bishop has helped to improve the facilities at Golden House, a local shelter for victims of domestic violence. “Whether you’re home or whatever city you’re in, I feel it’s an important part of being an NFL player.” As one of four roaming linebackers in Dom Capers sophisticated 3-4 scheme, Bishop has to study a lot of film of opposing offenses. But that’s not all he’s studying. Bishop is working on a screenplay.
Safety Peprah: Peprah took over as the starter alongside Pro Bowl safety Nick Collins after rookie Morgan Burnett suffered a season-ending knee injury Oct. 3 against Detroit while former starter Atari Bigby was on the physically unable to perform list. When Bigby was activated Nov. 6, most assumed that he’d reclaim his job. Instead, he simply rotated in for Peprah against Dallas on Nov. 7 and at Minnesota last Sunday before pulling his hamstring against the Vikings. As long as Bigby is sidelined, he’s already been ruled out for Sunday’s game against the Falcons, Peprah will hold the job full-time. “Charlie’s played well,” safeties coach Perry said. “He hasn’t been a guy that’s just been lining up. I could probably line up and be in the right place, but I’m not going to make any plays, not at my age. But Charlie’s been productive. He has taken advantage of the opportunity.” Peprah certainly waited long enough for the opportunity. Claimed on waivers, Peprah spent his first three seasons with the Packers playing special teams. He made just one start on defense before suffering a knee injury in training camp last year and reaching an injury settlement with the Packers. He ended up joining the Falcons last November and played in two games. He re-signed with the Packers during the offseason. He entered training camp toward the bottom of the safety depth chart, but he made the roster. Now, the Packers are relying on him to continue his steady play. After a rocky start as Burnett’s replacement, he made two key plays in the Packers’ Oct. 31 shutout victory over the New York Jets and has played well ever since.
OLB Zombo–hard work, zeal for game make undrafted rookie a starter: A funny thing happened on the way to the practice squad. Injuries swept through the Packers’ linebackers like a brush fire in the Hollywood hills, and suddenly Zombo was the last man standing. There was nobody else to play right outside linebacker. He was it. Zombo made his first start in Week 3 against the Chicago Bears replacing the injured Brad Jones. After Jones (shoulder) went on injured reserve Oct. 27, the position was Zombo’s for good. Linebackers coach Greene worked to get Zombo up to speed, but for the most part it’s been baptism by fire. The 23-year-old Zombo has had to learn a new position on the fly. Zombo ranks sixth on the Packers with 45 tackles including eight against the Vikings and has forced a fumble. “He is doing really, really well,” Greene said. “He set a real hard edge against a Pro Bowl player in McKinnie. He made a couple of really nice tackles. He’s playing well. He’s very self-conscious about how he plays. He wants to learn and get better and it shows.” Zombo’s pass-rushing skills help him at linebacker. He’s strong enough to walk tackles back into the quarterback and has two sacks. “Everybody measures the sacks, but you need people that know how to rush, where they just aren’t flying up the field,” said DC Capers. “If you put on the tape you’ll see a couple times (Sunday) that he had the tackle right back into Brett’s lap.” Of course, Zombo has made his share of mistakes, too. “There are some fundamentals and technique things that we can improve on,” Greene said. “He’ll learn that.” Like Zombo, Packers inside linebacker Desmond Bishop got his chance to play because of injuries. Now a starter alongside Zombo, Bishop said the two had a lot in common, starting with their passion for the game. Zombo has a deep appreciation for the Packers organization and its storied tradition. He’s fallen in love with Green Bay and said he’s converted most of Sterling Heights, a suburb of Detroit, into Packers fans.