1) Introduction: Taken in the sixth round of the 2007 NFL Draft, Desmond Bishop finally saw his first extensive starting role as ILB this year after Nick Barnett (wrist) went on injured reserve in October. Always falling behind first-round draft pick A.J. Hawk on the depth chart belied his perennial achievements in training camp. Bishop has a fierce, instinctive playing style that some say has boosted the defense’s overall physicality. He and Hawk complemented each other well, and Bishop practically locked in his future as a starting linebacker with a brand-new, four-year, $19 million contract extension that he signed in January.
Desmond Lamont Bishop
Height: 6-2 Weight: 241 lbs.
3) Expectations coming into the season: Coming into the season, it seemed to be the same old story for Bishop. He performed well in training camp, and Mike McCarthy even had many good things to say about his abilities; however, he was still expected to function as mainly a back-up to Barnett and Hawk while continuing to contribute on special teams. Even when taking the field on defense, Bishop’s previously inconsistent play reduced his expectations as a starter.
4) Highlights / Lowlights: Desmond Bishop’s first big highlight of the season was his 32-yard interception return against Brett Favre and the Vikings in Week 7. Showcasing his blitzing abilities was the crushing strip-sack on the Patriots’ Tom Brady in Week 15. But perhaps his best performance came on the biggest game of the year: Super Bowl XLV. He stuffed three runs, recorded eight tackles, and recovered the momentum-changing fumble from Rashard Mendenhall. Bishop didn’t have any glaring lowlights, though he did allow five plays of 20 yards or more and missed the most tackles among linebackers with 14.
5) Contributions to the overall team success: Though not a dominant force like some other players on the defense, Desmond Bishop was a solid contributor from the moment he took on the starting role opposite A.J. Hawk. His instincts put him in more good positions than bad, and his intense play was almost contagious. Bishop showed marked advancement from his erratic play of old, yet his pass coverage and lateral quickness leave plenty of room for improvement.
6) Contributions during the end-of-season 6-game run: Bishop’s light seemed to shine brightest in the postseason, where he made big plays in just about every game. Against the Philadelphia Eagles, he made a tone-setting sack on the first play of the game, and his shoestring tackle of DeSean Jackson on the Eagles’ final drive saved the Packers being sent home. In Atlanta, Bishop recovered a 4th-quarter fumble by Michael Jenkins to put the final nail in the coffin. Between the NFC Championship Game and Super Bowl XLV, he recorded 16 tackles and four run stuffs for minus-7 yards. His fumble recovery in the Super Bowl was also pivotal in the Packers victory.
Season Report Card:
(A-) Level of expectations met during the season
(B) Contributions to team’s overall success
(A) Contributions to team’s success during the playoff run (last 6 games)
Overall Grade for the Year: (B+)——————Follow @ChadToporski