With the prospects of Desmond Bishop being out for several months, or even the entire 2012 season, the Green Bay Packers could be in a pinch at inside linebacker. Second-year man D.J. Smith is the logical choice to line up next to A.J. Hawk in the Green Bay 3-4 alignment, but there’s another guy on the roster who I feel could make an impact in Bishop’s place.
That player is Erik Walden.
With rookie Nick Perry replacing Walden on the outside, the former starter actually has better size for an inside ‘backer in a 3-4 and his athleticism would be a good change-up from that of Hawk.
The 6-foot-2, 250-pound Walden had his best game as a Packer in the 2010 finale vs. the Bears. He racked up 16 tackles and three sacks while lining up as a spy on Jay Cutler on most downs and being used more from the middle of the field.
With the Packers’ excessive use of 5 and 6 defensive backs, an athletic inside linebacker is needed and the guy in that role has been Bishop.
The middle of the field has been a weakness for the Packers’ defense and without Bishop, who was the team’s second-best defensive player last season, the weakness could be bigger in 2012. Defensive coordinator Dom Capers might need to look into more players on the roster to fill that void.