The samurai sword maneuver, the over-pursuit of running backs, and the spicy semi-afro will all no longer appear on Sundays for the Green Bay Packers. Middle linebacker, Nick Barnett, went down with a torn knee ligament in the 28-27 loss to the Minnesota Vikings.
Barnett, thought by many to be the anchor of the defense, had 49 tackles thus far. He even admitted that he needed to step up his play last week.
Tearing a ligament in his knee is not, however, the way one goes about doing so.
The painful injury will cost the Packers due to Barnett's communication helmet. As the one who receives the signals from the sidelines—a new rule in the NFL this season—Barnett gave orders to other defensive players and made sure everyone was in position.
The mike, or middle, linebacker position will now be filled by Desmond Bishop. Bishop, a second-year pro out of California, entered Sunday's game against the Vikings and made nine tackles, and forced a fumble by Vikings' running back Adrian Peterson on a crucial fourth-and-one play.
Bishop is an effective linebacker, one who consistently has turned heads in preseason play for the past two years. He will now be given an opportunity to succeed in the remaining games of the season.
However, when Barnett is placed on injured reserve and a roster spot opens up, look for the Packers to add another mike linebacker. While it is disappointing to see Abdul Hodge, a draft pick by the Packers in 2006, now signed with the Bengals, the Packers need to look to acquire a veteran presence to replace Barnett.
Nevertheless, the Packers' playoff hopes took quite a dive on Sunday against the Vikings. The Barnett injury truly adds insult to injury.