Coverage should be upgraded with LB Bishop

The Vikings appear to have gotten an upgrade in coverage with the addition of Desmond Bishop, the linebacker who is motivated to face Aaron Rodgers.

Desmond Bishop downplayed the Vikings-Packers rivalry in general as motivation for him signing a one-year contract with Minnesota, but playing against Aaron Rodgers was an incentive, Bishop told NFL Network Tuesday morning.

The linebacker was released by the Green Bay Packers eight days ago and signed with the NFC North rival Minnesota Vikings seven days later. Facing one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL twice a year was motivation for Bishop to choose the Vikings.

"It's more so about trying to play against the best and if I can get the chance to play against Aaron Rodgers, I think that right there in itself is motivation," Bishop told NFL Network. "You want to play against the best. Just like when I was playing for Green Bay, the games I cherished the most was playing against the Vikings and getting the chance to play against Adrian Peterson.

"Little stuff like that, that's my mindset. I want to play against the best and there was an opportunity to play against Aaron Rodgers two times a year. That was something unique and that I liked."

Bishop is coming off a torn hamstring in 2012 and said he believes the Packers decided to go with the "sure thing" when they signed fellow inside linebacker Brad Jones to a multi-year contract before he became a free agent and elected to release Bishop.

Bishop said he can understand the "business" decision the Packers made.

"It was really just a numbers game, I suppose. There was a lot of uncertainty coming off this injury and the two guys who played, A.J. Hawk and Brad Jones, they did a really good job last year," Bishop said. "Brad was up and they had to make a move with him, and I guess they went with the sure bet. … They went with the safe bet, which is understandable from the business standpoint so I don't hold nothing against them."

Bishop missed the 2012 season because of the torn hamstring he suffered in the preseason opener, but when healthy he has proved to be a deserving starting linebacker. Pro Football Focus gave him a strong review.

"Adding Bishop brings another dimension again. Over his last three years of play he has graded +13.3 in run defense, +5.1 in pass coverage and a gaudy +19.0 as a blitzer — serious numbers as a true every-down linebacker," read the football metrics web site.

"Obviously the big question is health and form, but, based on his tape from previous years, Bishop will give the Vikings the best overall group since the underrated Ben Leber left in 2010."

After the departure of Jasper Brinkley, the Vikings' starting middle linebacker in 2012, Erin Henderson has been making the transition from weakside linebacker to middle linebacker. The acquisition of Bishop could change that, but either way both players should be starters alongside Chad Greenway, the strongside linebacker.

That should help upgrade the pass coverage from the linebacker corps. Brinkley allowed a passer rating of 113.6 on passes that targeted his coverage responsibility, according to PFF, fifth-worst in the NFL.

Bishop will have to make the transition from a 3-4 defense in Green Bay to the Vikings' 4-3 scheme, but, like defensive coordinator Alan Williams, Bishop downplayed the difficulty of doing that.

"It's not rocket science. It's football. It's still about running to the ball, tackling and reading your keys and making plays when the ball comes to you," Williams said.

Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.

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