So much for the Minnesota Vikings having confidence in Erin Henderson as their starting middle linebacker…
Instead, Henderson will bump back to the weak side while recently-signed Desmond Bishop steps in as the middle linebacker heading into 2013. While the move appears like an upgrade on the surface, there’s much more to the signing than just pure talent.
Bishop might now be the Vikings’ best option in the middle, but the bigger question is whether or not the former Green Bay Packers standout can get healthy and stay there. Bishop spent the entire 2012 season on the IR list after suffering a ruptured hamstring in the Packers’ preseason opener. With his health still in question, Green Bay opted to sever ties with him and his pricey contract.
Two years ago, Bishop notched 115 tackles, five sacks and two forced fumbles in 13 games while serving as a key piece of the Packers’ defense. Throughout his five-year NFL career, the Cal alumni has amassed 292 total tackles, nine sacks, one interception and eight forced fumbles.
Now in Minnesota, Bishop will have to prove during training camp that his hamstring is back to working order. If it holds up, though, the Vikings will suddenly field an underrated trio. Bishop will team with Henderson and strong-side backer Chad Greenway to complete their linebacking corps.
The addition of Bishop also allows the Vikings to avoid handing significant snaps to career backup Marvin Mitchell or rookie Gerald Hodges. Mitchell saw all of the first-team snaps on the weak side during OTAs and minicamp, and Hodges was expected to push the special teamer for the starting job during training camp and the preseason. Bishop’s presence also lessens second-year linebacker Audie Cole’s chances of seeing decent playing time in 2013.
Bishop will join wide receiver Greg Jennings as the second former Packers player to sign with the Vikings this offseason.
The latest in a long line of former Packers who adopted the horns, Bishop has a great opportunity to make an impact for the Vikings this season. As long as he can stay healthy and make the same type of impact he did in Green Bay from 2010-2011, GM Rick Spielman got a steal.