Desmond Bishop likely to see snaps with first-team defense vs. 49ers
Get the 1500 ESPN SportsWire delivered to your inbox daily, and keep up with all the news in Twin Cities Sports
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Desmond Bishop's proving ground has moved from Mankato to the practice facilities at Winter Park, but he could very well earn a starting job when the Minnesota Vikings travel to San Francisco.
Bishop, who returned from a groin injury last week, will likely see his first playing time with the Minnesota Vikings starting defense as coaches take the unit into the third quarter against the 49ers on Sunday.
"I think so," Defensive coordinator Alan Williams said about Bishop needing to play against a first-team offense. "You want to see if a guy can execute against good-on-good. I think that's one of the things we'll try to do this week, is to make sure the guys we're looking at get good-on good. Believe me, the 49ers have enough depth on their roster that we're going to get good-on-good with our first and second groups."
A transplant from the Green Bay Packers, Bishop signed as a free agent in June and hasn't been an integral part of the defense as expected. The groin pull sidelined him from various training camp practices and kept him out of the Vikings' first preseason game on Aug. 9. Bishop missed the entire 2012 season with a torn hamstring tendon.
Williams said there's no one player specifically he's trying to get mixed in with the first-team defense, but coach Leslie Frazier said Bishop is the only guy he's looking to put under a microscope with his starters.
"In Desmond's case, it's specifically designed to see him against their best players," Frazier said.
The risk-reward tilts heavily in the Vikings favor with Bishop, who has recorded consecutive 100-tackle seasons with the Packers and was signed to a one-yaer, veteran minimum deal with the Vikings.
The third preseason game is treated much like a regular season game from a coaches and players standpoint -- whether it's game planning all week or playing starters past halftime -- and the Vikings will get their first extended look at how Bishop responds to snaps with the starting defense on Sunday.
"I feel I have a lot to prove," Bishop said.
Bishop, who has experience as a middle linebacker in a 3-4 scheme, and middle linebacker Erin Henderson were the only two linebackers sent on a blitz against the Buffalo Bills on Friday.
Bishop's 26 snaps, which included a half-sack, came mostly at weak-side linebacker in place of Marvin Mitchell, who has been the team's starter all preseason. Mitchell will continue to start on Sunday, but should see some snaps siphoned off to Bishop.
Williams said Bishop's first game in over a year was a success, but he needs to see more before making Bishop a starter in the NFL again.
"[Bishop] played well, plays where he played downhill, had some good tackles," Williams said. "He'll probably say there were some plays he left out on the field, which can be expected with the first full action he's had."