EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — The Minnesota Vikings confirmed former Green Bay Packers linebacker Desmond Bishop was in for a workout with the team, but the team says it is just doing its “due diligence” in checking out the former leading tackler for Green Bay.
Minnesota still has an undetermined spot open at linebacker, currently on the weakside after Erin Henderson’s move inside. Bishop, released by the Packers on Monday, told FOX Sports Wisconsin he was visiting with the Vikings, along with “a few” other teams, though Minnesota coach Leslie Frazier refused to verify the report on Tuesday.
Vikings defensive coordinator Alan Williams said Bishop was in for a workout on Wednesday.
“Good workout and we’ll see,” Williams said. “Doing our due diligence in terms of bringing guys in that are free agents. The neat thing is I don’t have to make those decisions. I just have to coach them once they get here. So, coach Leslie Frazier and (general manager) Rick Spielman are the ones that make those hard decisions.”
Bishop, 28, missed all of last season after suffering a torn hamstring in August. He led Green Bay in tackles in 2011 and added five sacks and two forced fumbles. But the Packers chose to release Bishop with two years left on his contract after moving on with A.J. Hawk and Brad Jones in the middle of their 3-4 defense.
Bishop, an inside linebacker, said he’s completely recovered from the torn hamstring. Henderson has declared the middle linebacker in Minnesota’s 4-3 defense as his after making the move this offseason, but the team still needs to find another starter at Henderson’s weakside spot, with Marvin Mitchell and rookie Gerald Hodges the two likely leading candidates right now.
If Bishop signed, most likely he would play the middle and Henderson would move back outside. Henderson seemed reluctant to make another move when asked Tuesday, declaring, “I’m playing the ‘Mike'” in reference to the middle linebacker position.
“That’s a lot of ifs,” Henderson said. “I don’t really want to think about it that way. I have a chance to play Mike now, I don’t see why I would let it slip out of my hands or let it go any other way. So, that’s what my mindset is and that’s what I’m thinking.”
Williams wouldn’t say if Bishop has the versatility to play inside or outside, but didn’t think Bishop would have too much trouble in the transition from a 3-4 to a 4-3 defense.
“It’s not rocket science,” Williams said. “It’s football and it’s still about running to the ball, tackling and reading your keys and making plays when the ball comes to you. I don’t think it’s a big adjustment.”
Frazier said Tuesday any visit wouldn’t necessarily be a reflection on Henderson or the other linebackers. Williams said he’d be fine going into the season with the team’s current linebackers.
“We have a great linebacking corps,” Williams said. “We have a good mix of veterans and young guys that we’ve infused into the group. And they seem to be coming along fine. They’re gelling well together, making calls, making plays, and I feel great about them.”
Peterson out from practice: MVP running back Adrian Peterson was at the team’s facilities on Wednesday for the mandatory minicamp and was out with the team for part of practice, but Peterson was doing most of his workout inside the building.
Peterson, who had sports hernia surgery earlier this offseason, was at practice on Tuesday and went through team drills. Offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave confirmed Peterson was just getting his work done inside, continuing his training regimen.
Also present, but not practicing while rehabbing injuries were: defensive end Jared Allen (shoulder), linebacker Chad Greenway (knee), center John Sullivan (knee), receiver Greg Childs (knees), cornerback Jacob Lacey (thumb), linebacker Nathan Williams (ankle) and cornerback Greg McCoy (hamstring).
Tight end Rhett Ellison and safety Mistral Raymond, who each participated in Tuesday’s practice, didn’t participate Wednesday. Raymond was running and did work with athletic trainers on the side before watching the rest of practice. Ellison was without a helmet and watching with the tight ends group.
Williams said Raymond might have been hurt in Tuesday’s practice and might have a “leg issue.”
Sherels still in the lead for punt return job: The Vikings have added a few returners this offseason, including first-round pick Cordarrelle Patterson and even have former quarterback Joe Webb taking punt returns, but special teams coordinator Mike Priefer would go with a familiar face if he had to choose a punt returner now.
“Probably if we had to play Detroit tomorrow I would think we would put Marcus (Sherels) back there still because I just trust him,” Priefer said. “Typical, ball security has always been a big thing for me and always will be. I know he had the muff last year in the Packer game, which was a tough punt to handle, but he’s done a job again this spring. He’s got the best hands of the group, in terms of catching punts, and right now I put him at No. 1.”
Sherels had 32 punt returns for a 9.0-yard average and one touchdown last season.