Smith and Bishop gone, who will fill in on Vikings' D?

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Linebacker Desmond Bishop was supposed to come to Minnesota and make a formidable outside linebacker duo with Chad Greenway, whom the Vikings paid big money to keep.

Unfortunately for Bishop, who missed all of last year with a torn hamstring, a torn ACL will be what sidelines him this year, another tough blow in his pursuit of a return to his 2011 form, which saw him lead Green Bay in tackles. His surgery is scheduled for Tuesday, and he says he's looking to Adrian Peterson's ACL recovery for guidance.

Safety Harrison Smith was supposed to be the anchor of an improving young secondary that was in the top half in scoring defense and total yards in 2012.

Instead, with Minnesota sitting 31st in the league in total defense and 29th against the pass, Smith was dealt a brutal blow Friday, as the Vikings placed him on the IR-recall list as he battles turf toe, meaning he will be out for at least the next eight weeks.

With two impact players gone for The Purple, who will replace them as they battle to hang onto the slightest of 2013 playoff hopes?

Meet the four that are expected to battle for playing time with Bishop and Smith shelved.

  • S Mistral Raymond: We know Raymond reasonably well, a Vikings sixth-round pick in 2011 who has appeared in 10 games each of the last two seasons for Minnesota. He was expected to start, but was userped by the man that will be starting at safety Monday.
  • S Andrew Sendejo: It must be something about the UFL's Sacramento Mountain Lions. Former Viking QB Mcleod Bethel-Thompson played there, and Sendejo also spent a season on the left coast in a Mountain Lion uniform. Sendejo has also been with the Vikings since 2011, and appeared in 13 games last year, mostly on special teams. He started against Pittsburgh in London three weeks ago, and will do the same Monday.
  • LB Marvin Mitchell: Mitchell won the weakside linebacker starting spot over Bishop out of camp, but started just the opening game, but he will once again be thrust into the starting role Monday. He's appeared in all five games this season, and the sixth-year pro has made five tackles.
  • LB Gerald Hodges: The Penn State rookie linebacker was inactive for the Vikings first three games, cracking the active roster against Pittsburgh. He accumulated (wrong choice of words) one tackle that day, while putting up no stats against Carolina. However, some think he's on the right track to seeing some snaps, with defensive coordinator Alan Williams saying "he's been moving around with a sense of urgency, he's coming along well."

It will be Sendejo and Hodges Monday, but with members of the defense dropping like flys and the unit struggling as a whole, Hodges and Raymond may be just one snap away.

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