Fight Club: More Physical Camp an Encouraging Sign For Packers

Ryan CardarellaCorrespondent IAugust 5, 2009

GREEN BAY, WI - DECEMBER 07:  Desmond Bishop #55 of the Green Bay Packers celebrates after recording a sack against the Houston Texans during the second quarter at Lambeau Field on December 7, 2008 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Texans defeated the Packers 24-21.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

It didn't take long for the physicality of training camp to boil over for the Green Bay Packers.

After going without so much as a skirmish in camp before the disappointing 6-10 campaign of a year ago, it only took four days for several fights to break out during a Tuesday evening scrimmage.


While I certainly don't want to see anyone get put on the shelf by getting jacked up in a camp fight, the fact that the Packers' camp is more physical and intense thus far is a welcome sign for a team that lacked spark and toughness at times last season.

With five of the Packers' first six practices in full pads, Green Bay is running a much more rugged camp this year, with nose tackle Ryan Pickett stating it is the most physical camp he has been through.

Labeled a finesse team by some, a dirty word in football, the Packers have struggled at times to man up in the trenches in a very physical division.

But this is a new season, and thus far, the Packers and their coaching staff appear to have a chip on their shoulders after a disappointing 2008.

One player who has been turning heads with his impassioned play is middle linebacker Desmond Bishop, who has impressed coaches with his blitzing ability and physicality at the "Mack" position in camp.

He has also been at the center of a few donnybrooks.

Bishop had to be separated from offensive lineman Jason Spitz after a Kregg Lumpkin fumble caused a pileup, and another fight involving Bishop had Outside Linebackers coach Kevin Greene looking for his hat.

That is the kind of hunger you want from an inside 'backer.

I love the intensity he is bringing to camp so far, and his skills may end up being a great fit for the 3-4 defense inside.

He has been a beast timing his blitzes and blowing people up in the hole early in camp, and has shown the aggressiveness that A.J. Hawk has lacked in rushing the passer.

Bishop was exposed in coverage for being slow-footed at times last year, but with the new defense calling for mostly zone coverages, Desmond could see the field a lot more this season if he keeps crushing people in camp.

The 3-4 defense is always in need of a badass or two in the middle, and Bishop may emerge as that attitude guy at linebacker.

At the very least, maybe he can push the mostly mediocre A.J. Hawk as he looks to find the playmaking ability he showed at Ohio State.

Rookie Quinn Johnson has also brought toughness and physicality to camp at the fullback spot.

While it comes with the territory as a fullback, you want those guys who seem to seek out and relish the car-accident types of collisions in the hole, and he is proving to be a guy that can stand people up so far.

As anyone who played with Lorenzo Neal can attest, a hard-nosed, blocking fullback can make a huge difference in the running game, and may help open things up for Ryan Grant and Co. moving forward.

While a couple of fights in August won't necessarily lead to more victories in the fall, the hunger that the Packers are showing early in camp makes me believe they think they have something to prove this season.

Maybe it was the Favre distraction in camp last year, or maybe they got too high after their surprise run to the NFC Championship game in 2007, but the team simply seemed to lack intesity at times last year.

So far, they look and sound like a team ready to atone for their lost 2008 season, already showing some of the fire that was missing a year ago.