EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Desmond Bishop chose the Minnesota Vikings over at least three other teams when he was released by the Green Bay Packers, even though Bishop said he isn’t sure where he will play in Minnesota’s 4-3 defense.
One thing is sure in Bishop’s mind: He’ll be ready to play when the Vikings open training camp on July 26.
“Yes I will, 100 percent, ready to go,” Bishop said Thursday after his one-year contract became official.
Minnesota announced the move Thursday and released linebacker Stanford Keglar, who the team signed before organized team activities earlier this summer, to make room on the roster.
Bishop, who turns 29 two days before camp begins, said he is recovered from the torn hamstring that caused him to miss all of last season and led to him being eventually released by Green Bay, who chose to go with A.J. Hawk and Brad Jones in the middle of its 3-4 defense.
Bishop, who broke through from being a 2007 sixth-round pick by the Packers to turn into one of their steadiest defenders as an inside linebacker, will likely start for the Vikings alongside Chad Greenway and Erin Henderson at linebacker. But reports have said that Bishop could move outside for Minnesota after Henderson, who has started on the weak side for the past two seasons, moved to the middle during the Vikings’ offseason program.
The most logical scenario would have had Bishop going inside, with Henderson returning outside, but Bishop said he hasn’t heard how the Minnesota coaches will ask him to line up. Bishop has played inside since coming to the NFL and was a middle linebacker in college at Cal, but said he does have experience playing all over at points of his career.
“We haven’t really talked much in detail about it,” Bishop said. “I just know that the positions are pretty much interchangeable. I’m not really worried about that. Wherever they put me, wherever the coaching staff sees me fitting best, that’s where I’ll play and I’ll work hard and do my best at it.”
Bishop has said he doesn’t hold any ill will against the Packers and understands his former team’s business decision.
He recently drew national attention when he said he’s excited to face Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, but reiterated Thursday it’s only because he enjoys facing the best players in the league.
“I’m just that type of person that when I said that, I didn’t really mean for it to blow out of proportion,” Bishop said. “I’m just a very competitive person and Aaron Rodgers is considered the best, in my eyes, at quarterback. So it will be a good opportunity to play him just like when hand was turned and I got the chance to play against Adrian Peterson.
“So many other good players in the league, and all of them are going to be very exciting for me, especially being out the whole year. I’m just relishing the opportunity to go out to Minnesota, work hard and earn everything that I get, and try to help a young team go back to the playoffs.”
That’s what the Vikings are hoping for after adding Bishop, who started 30 games for Green Bay from 2010-11. He led the Packers with a career-high 142 tackles in 2011 and has 13 passes defensed, nine sacks and seven forced fumbles in his career.
Minnesota surprised many by making the playoffs last season and finishing second in the NFC North to Green Bay with a 10-6 record a year after going 3-13. The Vikings had an unsettled starting situation at linebacker after Jasper Brinkley signed with the Arizona Cardinals as a free agent, leading to Henderson’s move inside and the team looking at veteran Marvin Mitchell and rookie Gerald Hodges, among others, for the starting weakside linebacker spot.
While Bishop’s not seeking revenge by coming to Green Bay’s NFC North competitor, he is excited to face his former teammates.
“I have no idea what that’s going to be like,” Bishop said. “I can only imagine that it will be a little bit more exciting going back to Lambeau and playing against my old team. At the same time, there’s so much more that I have to focus on to that point. That’s something we can talk about in the future, but right now I’m just trying to get myself in the best shape and go out to the Vikings’ camp and prove myself.”
Bishop said seeing the recovery Vikings running back Adrian Peterson made to return from knee surgery and win the MVP is inspiring and hopes he can follow in a similar path.
“After watching a guy by the name of Adrian Peterson come back from his torn ACL and how well he did, I have a lot of confidence that I can do the same,” Bishop said.