EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Desmond Bishop finally earned a starting spot with the Minnesota Vikings, his first season with the team getting on track after working his way up the chain and learning the team’s defense.
Bishop’s time as the starter lasted only 16 plays.
Starting at weakside linebacker against the Panthers on Sunday for the first time all season, Bishop suffered a right knee injury in the second quarter and coach Leslie Frazier announced Monday Bishop tore his anterior cruciate ligament and will have reconstructive surgery.
Bishop walked off under his own power during the game, but was on crutches after the game and shared his reaction to the news Monday via Twitter.
“Ppl close to me won’t agree but I feel I let u down. To my family, teammates, coaches, Vikings organization, fand & mostly myself..I’m sorry,” Bishop wrote on his Twitter page (@Desbishop55) in a series of tweets. “So much I wanted to accomplish this year, so much I wanted to help my team accomplish is gone! Miffed that I couldn’t prove doubters wrong
“I’m a firm believer that the universe always even things out… Never too high/never too low.. That’s how I know my future burns bright!!
“But with all that said, its back to the drawing board for me. I’ve Been here before & it’s a hard & humble path but I’m embracing every step
“Thanks for the support tho it is and was appreciated no doubt!! God give the toughest challenges to those he know can endure.. I’ll be back!”
Frazier said safety Harrison Smith is dealing with a turf toe injury and still is scheduled to have an MRI. Rookie cornerback Xavier Rhodes sprained his left ankle in Sunday’s game and a follow-up MRI only revealed the sprain.
“He seems as if he should be OK,” Frazier said of Rhodes. “The MRI came back negative, so I think he should be OK.”
Bishop’s case, however, will end his season. It’s another tough blow for Bishop, who missed all of last season with a torn right hamstring he suffered in the preseason.
Bishop returned this season, but was released by the Green Bay Packers. He signed with Minnesota before training camp and made the move from an inside linebacker in Green Bay’s 3-4 defense to the outside with the Vikings’ 4-3 defense.
He was behind incumbent Marvin Mitchell during training camp and the first four games, but the defensive snaps for each were limited because Minnesota primarily played its nickel defense with Chad Greenway and Erin Henderson as the two linebackers. Bishop had progressively seen his playing time increase and was announced with the starters on Sunday at home.
“I thought as we gave him more opportunities leading up to yesterday’s ballgame, he had shown that he was ready to get a starting assignment and I wanted him to solidify it through his play in that ballgame yesterday,” Frazier said. “Unfortunately he got injured, but he was playing well up to the injury. It was more the work that he had done had impressed upon me and the coaches that he was ready for a start and it was a matter of how he would play would determine if he was going to hold on to that spot.”
Bishop, who signed a one-year, $750,000 contract with the Vikings to re-establish himself as a starter, had five tackles in his limited playing time this season. Bishop previously was one of the defensive leaders for Green Bay, leading the Packers in tackles in 2011 with a career-high 115 tackles to go with a career-high five sacks.
Minnesota will go back to Mitchell, who has five tackles this season, on the weakside and see if rookie Gerald Hodges, a fourth-round pick, can get ready. Hodges has been active for one game this season.
“We just got to see if Marvin is the right guy at the weakside linebacker position and keep bringing him along, and bringing the young guys along at that position as well; Gerald Hodges being the next young guy at the outside linebacker spot,” Frazier said.
Frazier said it’s possible the team could look to add another linebacker, but the Vikings were heavy already with eight linebackers on the roster. Behind Greenway, Henderson and Mitchell, Minnesota has veteran special teams player Larry Dean, rookie Michael Mauti, second-year middle linebacker Audie Cole and Hodges.
“We’re going to talk about what we want to do with that roster spot and how we want to handle our actives and inactives around that,” Frazier said. “So still a possibility (of adding another linebacker). We’re going to talk some more. We’ve got pretty decent depth at linebacker, but we’ll talk whether or not we want to bring someone in or not.”