Is Desmond Bishop bound for season-ending injured reserve or can the Green Bay Packers save a roster spot for him in hopes his surgically repaired hamstring will be healthy in time to help power a presumed push to the playoffs and beyond?
That decision will be made soon.
“Desmond’s situation will probably resolve here in the next 48 hours or so. That’s part of our conversation this morning with the personnel department,” coach Mike McCarthy said on Friday, one day after the Packers beat Cincinnati 27-13 for their first preseason win.
The NFL and the NFLPA didn’t do the Packers any favors. While both parties are in favor of a proposal that would have allowed teams to designate one player for a special injured list that would have allowed the player to return at midseason, the union voted it down this week. The league approved the proposal during the offseason, but the union says the change was tied to a curb on limits to full-pads practices during the regular season. Further, the union says it proposed the injured-list change during last year’s negotiations toward a collective bargaining agreement but the league said no.
Regardless of who’s to blame, it appears the proposal is dead and the Packers will have to sit down Bishop for the season or essentially play a man short for most of the season in hopes that the team’s leading tackler and second-best pass rusher could return in December.
For a little precedent, Green Bay put Ryan Grant on season-ending injured reserve after he sustained an ankle injury in the 2010 opener at Philadelphia rather than carry him on the active roster throughout the season. Factoring into any decision with Bishop are other injuries. Taking it to the extreme, the Packers could choose to carry offensive tackle Derek Sherrod (leg) and tight end Andrew Quarless (knee) on the roster rather than put them on the physically unable to perform list, which would keep them out through Week 6. Plus, cornerback Davon House’s shoulder and running back James Starks’ turf toe could keep them out early in the regular season. Teams have to cut the 53-man roster to 46 for game days, so Bishop, Sherrod, Quarless, Starks and House would take five of the seven inactive spots. That doesn’t leave much wiggle room for other week-to-week injuries.
“I wouldn’t say it impacts it,” McCarthy said of the NFLPA’s decision. “We go about it with what the rules are today. I understand the proposals in that particular case and the other things that were discussed at the league meetings, but once again they’re proposals. We basically operate off what’s in front of us as far as the current rules IR, roster.”
Starting defensive end Ryan Pickett strained a calf during the Packers’ goal-line stand at Cincinnati on Thursday. McCarthy said Pickett would be “hard-pressed” to be available for Thursday’s preseason finale against Kansas City. McCarthy was more optimistic about tight end Tom Crabtree, who was knocked out of the Cincinnati game with an injured shoulder after being drilled by Taylor Mays but holding onto the ball for a 22-yard gain. Robert Francois injured his hamstring and his status is not clear.
As for House, the Packers are a week away from getting some clarity on his short- and long-term future. He’s missed the last two preseason games after sustaining a partial shoulder dislocation at San Diego two weeks ago. He’s trying to rehab the injury so he can get back on the field but surgery is a possibility.
“He’s getting stronger,” McCarthy said. “The swelling is going down, so it definitely looks better. But it’s something that really comes down to the injury (being) different for everybody. I don’t know if we’ll have clarity this week, but we’ll see. He’s definitely making a lot of progress. It’s been nothing but positive reports from the rehab.”
-- McCarthy would not discuss how much Aaron Rodgers would play on Thursday night against Kansas City and if struggling No. 2 quarterback Graham Harrell would get some reps with the No. 1 offense. Sticking with what he said last week, McCarthy would not commit to Harrell holding that job into the regular season.
“We don’t make roster decisions today,” he said. “There’s still plenty of work to be done with three more practices. We have a game. Graham will play in that game and have more opportunities. Graham Harrell improved from the first two weeks. Last night, he graded out higher than the first two weeks.”
-- If there was any doubt about Jamari Lattimore’s position on the team, he cleared it up with his pick-six to clinch the win. “I tell you, he looks very natural inside,” McCarthy said. “He was a young man when he was playing outside a year ago. He’s stronger, he has a better understanding. I think the experience of being inside and outside has really helped him gain a good understanding of the defense. I thought the interception was an outstanding instinct play. He’s an extremely instinctive football player, you could see from Day 1 on the kickoff coverage units last year with his production, he played the whole year with the shoulder, so I’m very happy with his progress. To have the flexibility for him to play inside and outside, it’s a bonus. It’s why we train that way, and he definitely is more natural inside.”
-- The defense not only turned in its best performance of the preseason, but McCarthy was especially happy with the effort. “We had two, three, four hats on the ball. I thought it was clearly our best effort in that particular category of the preseason.”
-- The Packers didn’t practice on Friday and won’t on Saturday. They’ll practice at 11:15 a.m. on Sunday and Monday, both in pads. The final practice of training camp will be at 11 a.m. on Tuesday in helmets. After that, they host the Chiefs at 6 p.m. on Thursday before turning to preparations for the season-opening game against San Francisco on Sept. 9.
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.