The Vikings took a hard look at Desmond Bishop through the final three preseason games. They gave him extra playing time with their starters to see if he was the best choice for their weak-side linebacker job. And at this point, coach Leslie Frazier says, they've decided, at least for now, Marvin Mitchell is the man for the job.
“As we speak, Marvin is our starting outside linebacker," Frazier said on Monday, "Desmond did a good job, did enough to make our ball club. We’ll see how he progresses as we go forward.”
That doesn't exactly sound like a ringing endorsement from Frazier, but then, there's no reason for him to paint himself into more of a corner than that. Bishop has been one of the better inside linebackers in the game when he's been healthy, and Mitchell has only played more than 60 snaps in a game once in his career. The Vikings can find time for Bishop without pushing Mitchell onto the fringes, and let things sort themselves out naturally.
Mitchell didn't play in the Vikings' final preseason game, and only saw 56 snaps in the first three preseason games, so the Vikings haven't put him through a strenuous test, though he did make seven tackles in the team's second preseason game against the Bills. If Bishop is healthy, he's a more dynamic player than Mitchell, though Mitchell might be able to hang onto the job if he holds up better against the pass than Bishop can.
It wouldn't be surprising to see this position take a few turns throughout the year -- and things could get even more interesting if the Vikings decide they want more of a look at one of their young linebackers (Gerald Hodges or Audie Cole). Cole had a nice pass breakup in the Vikings' final preseason game, and though he's mostly played middle linebacker, the Vikings think he could work on the outside. Hodges saw 44 snaps in the Vikings' final preseason game, and did his best work there, making six tackles.
In any case, it seems unlikely the Vikings have locked down their weak-side linebacker spot. It's Mitchell's to lose for now, but it seems far from the most settled position on the roster.