Williams: 'Time is on our side' with linebacker Desmond Bishop
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MANAKTO, Minn. -- The season starts Friday for Minnesota Vikings linebacker Desmond Bishop.
Bishop, a free agent signing from the Green Bay Packers in late June, sat out most of last week and the opening preseason game on Friday with a sore groin after missing the entire 2012 season with a torn hamstring tendon.
Bishop will take the field for the first time in over a year when the Vikings travel to play the Buffalo Bills on Friday.
"I'd be lying if I said I didn't get frustrated at times," Bishop said after Monday's walkthrough. "I'm going to take this opportunity Friday and show the world what Desmond Bishop is about."
Bishop was assumed to be the Vikings answer at weak-side linebacker after the team moved incumbent starter Erin Henderson into the middle this offseason.
But he has been a partial participant in two weeks of training camp so far and Bishop said Friday's playing time is critical for his window of opportunity.
"This is kind of an urgent time for me right now," Bishop said. "Urgent in the sense, not to put extra pressure on myself, just urgent to go out and do what I've been doing. There's urgency there, but a real calmness as well."
Seven-year linebacker Marvin Mitchell started Friday's preseason opener at weak-side, but didn't see much playing time as Henderson and linebacker Chad Greenway took up most of the reps as the two linebackers in the often-used nickel formation.
Defensive coordinator Alan Williams spoke highly of Mitchell's progress, but said time is on the Vikings' side in determining the week one starter at weak-side linebacker.
"I'm very pleased with Marvin [Mitchell]," Williams said. "He's taken steps forward from last year. I think he's more comfortable being around, being part of the guys. We're seeing the leadership qualities of Marvin come out, not only on defense but on special teams."
The risk-reward for Bishop is favorable for the Vikings, who signed the linebacker for one year on the veteran minimum.
"I thought [Bishop] had a good practice yesterday," Williams said. "Guys are calling him fresh legs since he's been out for a little bit. It looks like he hasn't missed a beat and I expect that of a veteran such as him that a little bit of time off didn't hurt him in any means."
When referring to a little time off, Williams was most likely talking about Bishop's groin injury last week, but the seven-year NFL veteran hasn't taken the field since Aug. 9, 2012 when he suffered the season-ending injury to his hamstring.
"I know there will still be some rust on him in terms of live football, but we still have three weeks to go," Williams said. "So time is on our side in that respect. I'm not going to put any undue pressure on him."
Williams appeared to have a lot of faith in Bishop, who in the past has strung together back-to-back 100-tackle seasons for the Packers.
"[Bishop] comes to the meetings, sits up front, asks good questions," Williams said. "He's attentive whether he's in or out. I'm going to wait and see and let him do what he does, which is play good football."