Back from the brink, Bishop takes nothing for granted with Vikings

  • Article by: KENT YOUNGBLOOD , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 31, 2013 - 12:47 AM

After overcoming injuries, the linebacker now hopes to become a starter.

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Desmond Bishop celebrated making another tackle for a loss in the first quarter of Thursday’s game.

Photo: JEFF WHEELER • jeff.wheeler@startribune.com,

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It might be easier for him to say it now, but Desmond Bishop insists that he wasn’t worried.

“You talk about how quickly things can change,” Bishop said. “I know all about that.’’

A little more than a year ago, Bishop was an established member of the Green Bay Packers’ linebacker corps. Then came a preseason game last August, a running play, an awkward finish and Bishop’s hamstring was torn, his 2012 season was over and his future was in doubt.

So let’s put things in perspective.

Earlier this summer, Bishop — signed by the Vikings after the Packers released him — was having a hard time getting on the field because of a groin muscle pull. He missed the team’s first preseason game. By the time the second game came around there was some question whether Bishop would even make the final roster.

Again, things change.

Bishop knocked off a year’s worth of rust against Buffalo on Aug 16. Last Sunday, in extended action in San Francisco, he led the Vikings with nine tackles, two for loss. Thursday against Tennessee in the preseason finale — a game the Vikings’ starters watched from the sidelines — Bishop finished with seven more total tackles, two more for loss, in three series of action.

Just a couple of weeks ago, Bishop’s time was running out. Now he’s pushing for a starting spot at weakside linebacker.

How’s that for a change?

“I feel good,” Bishop said. “I feel like I’m ready. I think I’m doing a pretty good job. And the scary part is I feel I still have a lot of potential to fulfill. So I’m excited.”

The Vikings must cut their roster from 75 players to 53 by 5 p.m. today. On Sunday, after NFL players clear waivers, teams will be allowed to put together eight-man practice squads.

Asked if his play had made a strong argument for being a starter, Bishop first asked, “What do you think?” But then: “I think so, definitely.”

Both of Bishop’s tackles for loss came on Tennessee’s first drive, and it should be noted that the Titans started the game with most of their first-team offense.

“He’s struggled with injuries over the last year or so,” said Vikings coach Leslie Frazier, “so to see him come out and compete the way he did, and put some good tape out there the last two weeks? He was kind of getting his feet wet in the Buffalo game. But the last couple of weeks he’s really come on, so that’s really encouraging. I’m looking forward to watching the tape and evaluating him a little bit more. But he did a good job.”

Good enough that, at the very least, Bishop’s competition with Marvin Mitchell for the weakside linebacker job has become more intense as Bishop has gotten back to full health.

“It’s been a process,” Bishop said. “Everything, the transition to a new defense, kind of getting my feet back under me. I feel I’ve been steadily getting better each game.’’

That showed Thursday, when Bishop was making his reads and reacting quickly to the action.

Now all Bishop can do is wait out the weekend, intending to return to practice next week competing for a starting spot.

His plan for his days off included returning to Green Bay, picking up his fully restored 1968 Camaro and driving it back to the Twin Cities.

“I’m just grateful to be in this position,” he said. “To be healthy enough to play. I don’t take it for granted any more. I don’t take the game for granted. I don’t take any plays for granted. I just enjoy it.’’

 

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