MANKATO, Minn. — Desmond Bishop’s short tenure with the Minnesota Vikings has been filled with more intrigue than plays made on the field.
Bishop’s signing following the offseason program meant he was coming to his new team fresh into training camp. Believed to be fighting for a starting linebacker position, Bishop opened camp with the second-team defense and then suffered a groin injury a week later.
Bishop has returned to practice and said he’s free of any lingering pain with the groin. Knowing the comeback from last year’s torn hamstring — which caused him to miss the entire 2012 season — might have contributed to the groin injury, he’s back to earn his spot and doing so with a careful eye.
“Full speed,” Bishop said Monday of being back on the field. “Smart full speed though.”
Minnesota’s coaches sound just as eager to see what he can bring to the table as anyone.
“I know that there will still be some rust on him in terms of live football,” defensive coordinator Alan Williams said. “But we still have three weeks to go and time, so time is on our side in that respect. I’m not going to put any undue pressure on him; just let him compete and he’s doing that. He’s a professional. He comes to the meetings, he sits up front. He asks good questions. Out on the football field he’s attentive whether he’s in or out, so I’m just going to wait and see and let him do what he does, which is play good football.”
Bishop’s time off has earned from ribbing from teammates, apparently, but Williams has been pleased with his response as he’s returned to practice.
“Of course, the guys are calling him ‘Fresh Legs’ since he’s been out for a little bit,” Williams said. “He moved around and had some good run fits in 9 on 7 and on the team runs. It looks like he hasn’t missed a beat. I expect that of a veteran such as him that a little bit of time off did not hurt him in any means.”
Bishop’s veteran status should help him make up for any lost time, but Bishop isn’t worrying about his missed repetitions or his adaptation to the Vikings’ defense.
He knows many of the other influences are out of his control. So, he’s trying to stay healthy and get his work in to prove himself to his new team.
“Everyone knew it was going to be an adjustment all that stuff,” Bishop said. “At the end of the day, I think I can play this game at a real high level. So, hopefully that gets me where I need to get.”
Williams said the main focus points for Bishop right now is making sure he lines up correctly, making plays that come to him, avoiding giving up big plays and if he can come up with “splash” plays. Bishop should get his first big chance to show coaches what he can do in Friday’s second preseason game.
Bishop missed last week’s preseason opener, but is expected to play Friday at Buffalo.
Marvin Mitchell is trying to lay claim to the starting weakside linebacker spot, one that Bishop appeared to be in line for after he signed. Williams said Mitchell has fared well during camp and Friday’s preseason game will be important for Mitchell, as well.
“Very pleased with Marvin,” Williams said. “He’s taken steps forward from last year. I think Marvin feels more comfortable being around part of the guys and we’re seeing the leadership qualities in Marvin come out, not only on defense but also on special teams, which is a good thing. I think you can’t have enough good leaders and Marvin’s playing good ball for us. Hopefully we’ll get more base defense this week and not as much nickel as we did last week with that first group. It’ll be a test for Marvin as well as the other guys to see how well our base defense holds up.”