GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The massive scar along Desmond Bishop's right leg is a daily reminder to the Packers' inside linebacker that he's never going to be the same physically. Well, not the physical appearance near the area of his surgically repaired hamstring, anyway.
It's not that Bishop won't be able to regain the level of play that led him to be Green Bay's leading tackler last season. In fact, doctors have told the 28-year-old that he could come back even stronger. But the season-ending injury Bishop suffered in the team's first preseason game on Aug. 9 has left him with a permanent memento on his body from the play that put a one-year halt on his burgeoning career.
"I look at my scar, and I look at the way my knee is, I'm just different," Bishop said Monday at his locker. "Hopefully it can be at least back to where it was before, if not better."
Just eight days after Bishop completely tore his hamstring, he was in surgery. And he remembers that date well: Aug. 17. When asked, Bishop has no hesitation whatsoever in responding with the exact day that doctors had to make a large incision to fix the injury that forced him to hobble off the field in San Diego.
Though Bishop has been going through rehabilitation treatments for nearly three months, including up to four hours each day in recent weeks, he believes he hasn't yet cleared his biggest hurdle in recovery.
"I think it's coming," Bishop said. "Just that doubt a little bit in the back of your mind."
Bishop hasn't avoided watching the play that resulted in his injury. The problem is, even with the multiple high-definition camera angles in the NFL nowadays, there's not much evidence that a devastating injury took place.
"It's hard to see," Bishop said. "I haven't seen a good film clip of it where you can actually see. A lot of people have said, It doesn't look like much.'
"I use (footage of the play) as motivation."
Initially, it seemed possible that Bishop might be given an opportunity to return this season. With the injury happening so early in preseason and the NFL's new rule allowing each team to designate one injured reserve player for return, there was an outside chance for Bishop to be able throw his helmet and shoulder pads on again in 2012.
Fast forward three months, and given his latest medical progress, perhaps Bishop could have contributed this season.
"I foresee me being close to 100 percent, I would say, February-ish," Bishop said.
However, Bishop still agrees with the Packers' decision to officially end his season before it ever got started.
"I was hoping (to play this season), but looking back on it, I think it was a good decision to keep me out," Bishop said. "I think possibly I could have been back, but I wouldn't have been as explosive and stuff, so it probably would have been detrimental."
After a few weeks away from the team, Bishop returned to Green Bay following the bye just like all of his teammates. He hasn't attended a Packers game in person since the win in Houston in Week 6, but he now plans to be around more often throughout the rest of the season.
"I've been talking to doctors and coaches and trying to figure out exactly what my schedule is," Bishop said. "I have to try to figure out a way to get some structure back around here. Not going OD on going to all the meetings and stuff, though."
Considering how far along Bishop is already in his recovery, it's almost a certainty that he'll be ready to participate immediately when offseason workouts begin in 2013.
"It's going good," Bishop said. "I think it's going really good."
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