Packers fans wanted to see more of D.J. Smith in 2012. Well, they’re going to get their wish – just not in the way they were hoping it would happen. According to Rob Demovsky of the Press-Gazette, inside linebacker Desmond Bishop suffered a hamstring injury on Thursday night in San Diego that could end his season.
Smith started three games in place of Bishop last December and fared well, recording 27 total tackles and an interception. However, the challenge will be even greater this time around. Opposing offensive coordinators now have film on the former Appalachian star, so they’ll be well prepared to come after him.
The first thing Smith must do as the newly installed starter at “Mack” linebacker is tackle a lot better than he did the other night. He was around the football consistently, but he missed a pair of tackles in the open field. Because he struggles at times to break down in space, that could continue to be an issue.
The other player who now figures to take on a more prominent role is Robert Francois. He goes from on the bubble to possibly on the field in some sub-packages. The former Boston College star did a decent job in coverage last season. He’s an above-average athlete who shows good zone awareness and ball reactions.
Jason Wilde of ESPN Milwaukee recently ranked Bishop as the 20th most important player for the Packers in 2012. That seemed way too low at the time. We’re about to find out just how far off Wilde was. Whether he was a little off or a lot off will depend on how well backups like Smith and Francois perform.