Some clarity on Packers injuries

Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy dropped a bunch of news on local reporters after a Saturday night practice, one that was abbreviated because a total of 21 players were sitting out due to injury. Let's run through the news one issue at a time.

Linebacker Desmond Bishop's season is "in jeopardy," McCarthy said, because of a hamstring injury that will require surgery. Bishop also has a knee sprain.

It's a freak injury for a player that has struggled with calf strains in the past year. When healthy, Bishop is one of the Packers' most physical defenders, and a pretty crafty playmaker as well. Bishop won't have surgery until some of the swelling reduces, and it sure sounds unlikely that he'll play again in 2012.

The Packers might be able to utilize a new rule that allows teams to place one player on a separate injured reserve list and be activated by midseason, but at the moment the NFL Players Association hasn't signed off on the rule change. And there are no guarantees that Bishop would be ready to play at that point, anyway.

The likely replacement is second-year linebacker D.J. Smith, who acquitted himself well in three starts last season, but there is a big difference between being a spot starter and taking over a position for a season. Make no mistake: Losing Bishop is a significant blow to the Packers' defense.

Cornerback Davon House, who emerged from the first few weeks of camp as a starter, will miss two or three weeks because of a shoulder separation. At the moment, he is not scheduled for surgery.

It could have been much worse for House, who had his arm in a sling Saturday. But despite the relatively optimistic outlook, we should remember how much a shoulder injury impacted the way fellow cornerback Tramon Williams played last season.

You can be healthy enough to play but not strong enough to succeed in press coverage or to stick your shoulder into a ball carrier. Just something to think about.

Finally, tailback James Starks has been diagnosed with turf toe and is "week to week," McCarthy said.

Starks' condition, previously unknown, goes a long way toward explaining why the Packers are expected to sign veteran running back Cedric Benson. Backup Alex Green remains on a snap count as he recovers from a torn ACL, and Brandon Saine has been sidelined by a hamstring injury. In short, the Packers are almost out of running backs.

I suppose we could argue about the wisdom of making an offseason commitment to Starks, who has a long history of injuries, with a limited safety net behind him. But it's late on a Saturday night and we're all tired. That's for another day.