MANKATO -- Listening to Desmond Bishop speak, it's no wonder the Vikings have chosen to start him out at weakside linebacker as opposed to middle linebacker when training camp practices begin on Friday.
The middle linebacker has an important leadership and directional role on most defenses, and this one in particular. He sets the defense, makes adjustments and has to have a working knowledge of where many of his teammates are supposed to be.
And while Bishop is a talented veteran, he's also a guy who didn't sign with the Vikings until June 24. He missed all the OTAs, the mini-camp and every other bit of offseason instruction. That's not a good thing when one is switching from a 3-4 defense to a 4-3 defense.
Other than his training camp roommate, Greg Jennings, whom Bishop knows from their six years together in Green Bay, and Chad Greenway, whom Bishop texted back and forth with a little the past month, Bishop met the rest of his teammates for the first time when he checked in at Mankato on Thursday.
"Right now, I'm just trying to remember all the names that are being thrown at me," Bishop said.
Coach Leslie Frazier announced earlier that Bishop would start out at the weak-side linebacker position. It came as somewhat of a surprise to many who assumed Bishop, who played inside in the Packers' 3-4, was brought in to play middle linebacker while Erin Henderson shifts back to his weak-side job. Henderson will stay in the middle in the base defense and in the nickel. At least for now.
"Because [Bishop] is coming in so late, what we're trying to do is get him up to speed on how we do things from a defensive standpoint," Frazier said. "We think the best way of getting that done is starting him on the outside."
Frazier also said that could change if the Vikings discover that outside linebacker is a bad fit for Bishop or if "we had trouble inside."
Frazier isn't anticipating outside linebacker giving Bishop a problem.
"One of the things I liked is he's a very good blitzer," Frazier said. "He has some good athletic ability. That's what we look for in our outside backers. Guys who have the ability to win one-on-one with halfbacks and fullbacks but yet they're good in coverage as well and can take on lead blockers. He's shown he can do that."
Bishop missed all of last season because of a torn hamstring suffered in the preseason. In 2011, he had 115 tackles and five sacks.
"I think I'll be fine," Bishop said. "I put myself through some rigorous workouts the past two or three months just to see where I'm at. It's nothing like actually putting the pads on and banging around, but I feel good."
Bishop also smiled when talking about switching to the 4-3. He had experience at all three 4-3 linebacker positions before current Packers' defensive coordinator Dom Campers came in and changed Green Bay to a 3-4 in 2009.
"I just recently switched to a 3-4 and everybody was asking, `How are you going to adjust to playing in the 3-4?'" Bishop said. "It's pretty simple. I think switching back to a 4-3 won't be too hard. I think it'll be all right."