Marvin Mitchell attempts to make most of opportunity at linebacker
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MANKATO, Minn. -- It was assumed that Desmond Bishop would supplant Marvin Mitchell as the Minnesota Vikings' starting weak-side linebacker, perhaps even take over at middle linebacker for Erin Henderson, if he impressed at training camp.
But after a week, Bishop has yet to see any extended action and is currently sidelined because of a groin pull, leaving Mitchell and Henderson exactly where they were before Bishop donned a Vikings jersey.
"Every year I prepare myself as the starter," Mitchell said. "I had no reaction [when Bishop signed]. Each year there's competition out here. The way you make your team better is through competition."
Mitchell emerged as the primary backup a year ago before a high ankle sprain slowed him down, ultimately playing only 46 snaps in 2012, most in place of an injured Henderson at weak-side linebacker.
With three starts in six NFL seasons, Mitchell is not the most experienced linebacker the Vikings could have, but even with his limited play, Mitchell has seen more action in the past year than Bishop -- who hasn't played since Aug. 9, 2012.
"I'm feeling a lot better," Bishop said after Monday's practice. "I'm progressing every day. I can't really give you a timeframe, I'm hoping [to be back] as soon as possible."
Bishop had back-to-back seasons of 100-plus tackles with the Green Bay Packers before missing the entirety of last season, his sixth in the NFL, because of a torn hamstring tendon.
Bishop said the time off was likely a factor in his injury.
"That and a little fatigue," Bishop said. "Like I said, it's a process."
The Packers typically had Bishop as a middle linebacker along with A.J. Hawk in their 3-4 defensive scheme, but the Vikings opted to stick with their commitment to Henderson, who was told he would retain the middle linebacker spot this spring, and placed Bishop at the weak side to start camp.
Linebacker depth -- and experience -- was a problem the Vikings were looking to solve when the team signed Bishop in late June as a free agent after he was let go by the Packers, but with him sidelined for the time being, they have to continue on with what they have on the depth chart.
With no timetable set, Bishop's ability to play in the Vikings' preseason opener on Friday against the Houston Texans is up in the air, leaving Mitchell as the first-team linebacker.
"My job is just to make plays," Mitchell said. "I have a lot of confidence in myself to make those plays, I just want to get the opportunity when my name is called to go ahead and execute the plays."