Frazier plays Vikings' interest in Bishop coy
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) — Soon after the Green Bay Packers released Desmond Bishop, the seventh-year veteran linebacker was telling Wisconsin reporters about his next step.
Bishop said he's visiting the Minnesota Vikings, the natural move for so many former Packers players looking for a new team and an opportunity to prove their ex-employer wrong.
Vikings coach Leslie Frazier declined after minicamp practice Tuesday to confirm that Bishop was visiting with the team, but Bishop told several media outlets Monday he planned to speak with the Vikings in Minnesota.
"I wouldn't want to verify any reports," Frazier said, adding: "We'll be bringing in guys to work out all the time. At whatever position we bring guys in, it's usually not a reflection of that position. It is just ongoing. We're always trying to have a database and do whatever we can to help our football team."
Bishop became a starter at inside linebacker for the Packers in 2010, his breakout season. He didn't play at all last year after tearing his hamstring in a preseason game. Bishop thrived once the Packers switched to a 3-4 defense, and the Vikings use a 4-3 scheme, meaning more pass-coverage responsibilities for their middle linebacker.
But their current starter at that critical position is Erin Henderson, who has played the weak-side spot the last two years. Moving Henderson to the middle would leave either rookie Gerald Hodges, a fourth-round draft pick from Penn State, or career backup Marvin Mitchell as unproven starters at Henderson's previous position.
"I'm playing the 'Mike,'" Henderson said flatly, when asked if he's set on being the middle linebacker.
Pressed further about his feelings on the Bishop situation after practice Tuesday, Henderson said, "That's a lot of ifs. 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."
Speaking generally about the possibility of signing Bishop, Henderson said, "It's cool. I hope it goes well for him, that the Vikings like what they see, welcome him with open arms, welcome him to the team. Not really sure what it's about. I'm just employee No. 50, baby. I just come out here and do what they ask me to do on the field."
Henderson said his comfort at the middle position has grown daily this offseason. Frazier agreed.
"He's shown more command of the defensive huddle than we expected early on. You can see that he has a lot of control, and the guys really respect everything that he's trying to get done," the coach said.
Chad Greenway, the unquestioned leader of the group and the long-time starter on the weak side, said he'd have no problem making room for Bishop in the lineup.
"You have to welcome guys like that with open arms. He's a very talented player. He's proven that in his career. If that's the direction of the organization, that's the direction we go as a locker room," Greenway said.
NOTES: Greenway, who had arthroscopic surgery on one of his knees last week, said he "feels good" and has "no doubt" he'll be ready for full participation in practice from the start of training camp. ... Rookie LB Michael Mauti, the seventh-round draft pick from Penn State who's coming off reconstructive ACL surgery on his left knee, took part in practice drills for the first time this offseason. WR Greg Childs, who's trying to return from tears in both of his patellar tendons, also had a helmet and participated in some individual skills drills with his teammates. "It kind of helps their confidence to know where they are," Frazier said.
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