Viewing Desmond Bishop as a 50-50 deal

The continuing health issues of Minnesota Vikings linebacker Desmond Bishop, and the resulting jeopardizing of his presumed roster spot, adds local relevance to an important study published in June by the American Journal of Orthopedics.

In case you misplaced that issue: A group of researchers studied 10 NFL instances of a player undergoing surgery to re-attach a proximal hamstring rupture, the injury Bishop is believed to have suffered in August 2012 while with the Green Bay Packers. According to the study, a return to any level of NFL effectiveness from that injury has proved to be a 50-50 proposition.

Nine of the 10 returned to play after the injury, but only five of them appeared in more than one game.

Those odds help explain why the Packers released Bishop in June, especially after a hamstring strain sidelined him during organized team activities (OTAs). He missed the Vikings' preseason opener because of a groin pull, and his inability to stay on the field appears to have the Vikings on edge.

At one point, we were discussing whether Bishop would start at middle linebacker or on the outside. Now we're hearing Vikings coach Leslie Frazier make unusually blunt assessments of Bishop's chances for simply securing a roster spot.

Frazier said the Vikings' next two preseason games are "going to determine whether or not he makes our team." He added: "So much of this is about how he plays over the next two weeks. Or if he's not available because of his injury. I can't say it any simpler than that. It's a big two weeks for him. He needs to show us he can help our football team in order to make our team."

I don't view those comments as a tag on Bishop as much as the first public indication of the challenge he faces in returning from a 50-50 injury. It's true that the Vikings aren't particularly deep at linebacker, and we should also point out that they guaranteed $50,000 of his $750,000 salary when they signed him last month.

But in NFL terms, $50,000 doesn't guarantee a roster spot. The study concluded that the type of injury Bishop sustained might be a "marker for elite-level physical deterioration." It's time to recognize that the odds are just as good that he won't make it back as they are that he will.