During the first quarter of Sunday’s game at Carolina, Desmond Bishop blitzed up the middle and, just a split-second after Cam Newton unloaded the ball, drilled Newton in the midsection with a well-placed shoulder pad.
While referee Alberto Riveron flagged Bishop for roughing the passer, Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy is using Bishop's hit as a teaching aid.
“I’ll just say this: Bishop’s hit on Cam Newton in the game, that’s the highlight tape that we showed for our tackling drill today,” McCarthy said after Thursday’s practice. “That’s exactly how you’re supposed to tackle the offensive ball-carrier. So, I understand there’s judgment involved in that call, and that’s fine, but based on my judgment, that is a classic example of a perfect tackle.”
As of Thursday, Bishop said he had not received word from the league that he was being fined. After the penalty, Bishop was told “you can’t lift (the quarterback) up.” Still, as many defensive players quickly will point out, quarterbacks seem to be receiving excessive protection from the officials. Defenders can’t hit a quarterback around the helmet (like former Packers defender Cullen Jenkins did in the Eagles’ game against Matt Ryan and the Falcons on Sunday night) and they can’t hit him around the knees. If you can’t hit him in the midsection, what area is fair game?
“Maybe you can do something else, like drop-kick them down,” Bishop said with a laugh.
Making a defender’s job even more challenging is facing a big, athletic quarterback such as Newton.
“When the quarterback has the ball, he’s live and you can do whatever,” Bishop said was his interpretation of the rules. “Once he throws the ball, they tighten up on the rules. It’s unfortunate because it happens so quick. You have to play it the same, because he could pump fake and keep it, and if you’re letting off, you miss the sack.”
Packers injury report
Out — S Nick Collins (neck); DE Mike Neal (knee); LB Frank Zombo (shoulder). Did not participate — LB Clay Matthews (quad); CB Charles Woodson (foot). Limited — DE Ryan Pickett (foot); CB Tramon Williams (shoulder). Full — T Chad Clifton (knee); TE Jermichael Finley (ankle); CB Davon House (ankle); RB Alex Green (Achilles); LB Vic So’oto (back).
McCarthy said he’s confident that Matthews will play on Sunday, even though he might not practice on Friday. The coach added that Williams is “making progress” and took some reps during Thursday’s full-pads practice.
Clifton, House and So’oto went from limited to full.
Bears injury report
Did not participate — WR Earl Bennett (chest); T Gabe Carimi (knee); S Major Wright (head/neck). Limited — RB Marion Barber (calf); S Chris Harris (hamstring); G Lance Louis (ankle). Full — WR Roy Williams (groin).
Williams went from limited to full. He’s third on the team with four receptions.
— On Friday, the team will watch a video detailing the 182-game history of the Packers-Bears rivalry. “It’s really a highlight of the tradition,” McCarthy said. “It has a lot of clips from prior games. (Charles Martin’s cheap shot on Jim McMahon in 1986) has made it in the past. Whether it makes it this week or not, we’ll see. But it’s something we try to update to keep our veteran players fresh with the rivalry, but it’s really, truly, for the new players. It is just so they have an understanding the first time the play the Bears what game they’re clearly walking into.”
— Aaron Rodgers, on the rivalry: “There's a strong rivalry between the two teams and between players. But, ya know, there's also a lot of respect. Through the number of games we played, three times last year, you see a lot of those guys in the offseason. I've trained with Charles Tillman before. Obviously, I have a lot of respect for those guys and the team. It's not ala Pittsburgh/Baltimore, where it's going to be a fight. It's two very competitive teams and competitive players who enjoy playing each other and enjoy beating each other.”
— Why are games between the Packers and Bears so low scoring? This probably explains it: Since the start of last season, the Bears have allowed a league-low 17 touchdown passes while the Packers are fourth with 20.
— The Packers have won the opening toss in both games. They elected to receive against New Orleans (scored a touchdown) but deferred against Carolina (allowed a touchdown). “Deferring the kick is never just a one week, ‘OK, check off these three variables and make the decision,’” McCarthy said. “You look at the whole dynamic of the game. We have a game management (meeting) every Friday (with assistant head coach Winston Moss, the coordinators and director of research Mike Eayrs) and we talk about it, and frankly when we come out of that, I pretty much have made my decision whether I'm deferring or taking the football. You look at all the statistics and talk about where we feel we are and our opponent, and we make a call.”
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport.