The Vikings looked at their linebacker depth coming out of the draft and knew they had a problem. They were loaded up with young talent but that talent was entirely untested. And beyond Chad Greenway and Erin Henderson, the relative veterans on the linebacker corps were not experienced or good enough to fill in the gaps.
The Vikings got what looked like good news when the Packers released veteran ILB Desmond Bishop, who missed all of 2012 with a hamstring injury. After a brief flirtation the Vikings locked up Bishop with a very low-risk deal offering only $50,000 in guaranteed money. Bishop arrived in camp apparently healthy and ready to rock.
It appeared the Vikings had shored up their linebacker issues. But, as many feared might happen, Bishop has once again suffered an injury to his lower body. Not a hamstring this time but a groin. Either way, Bishop is once again on the shelf. And the Vikings are once again filled with uncertainty about their corps of linebackers.
This is where the young guys may or may not come in. As of right now, veteran Marvin Mitchell is listed as the starting Will with Bishop’s status up in the air. But other guys are maybe going to get their shot as we proceed through preseason. The one guy to look at is fourth round pick Gerald Hodges. We haven’t heard much from Hodges in camp, but with Bishop out, the former Penn State LB is getting second team reps at the Will.
Here’s Hodges’ chance to step up as a rookie and perhaps claim himself a starting job. The only thing working against him is Leslie Frazier’s almost ironclad policy against giving rookies a fair shake. Hodges may in fact be ready to step up, but Frazier may not let him. Frazier may give Mitchell the bulk of the first team reps, relegating Hodges to a strict backup role.
Far be it from me to tell Leslie Frazier how to do his job, but frankly I don’t understand this narrow-minded policy toward rookies. It didn’t make sense last year either when they basically blackballed Jarius Wright for half the season. Unless you’re a punter/kicker or a first round pick, Frazier just doesn’t want to give you a chance. And it makes no sense to me. Especially on a team so dedicated to building through the draft.
Who knows how this will ultimately resolve itself. All I know is that, right now, the Vikings can’t count on Desmond Bishop. That body of his appears to be just too broken down. It’s a good thing they didn’t tie up very much guaranteed money in this guy. Hopefully he can get better and contribute but I wouldn’t hold my breath.
Tags: Minnesota Vikings