Freddie Bishop is happy to be in America not because of the food, family or anything of the sort. He is simply excited "to get that yard back." After playing four seasons of college ball at Western Michigan, Bishop decided to head north and play in the CFL following his release from the Lions in the summer of 2013.
While the CFL has a number of different rules than the NFL, one that sticks out for Bishop is that defensive ends line up a yard away from the line of scrimmage. "It hinders the defensive lineman, especially a pass rusher," he said before today's second practice of the Jets' rookie minicamp. "So being back down here, it's good to get that edge back and kind of even up the playing field."
The 6'4", 265-pound linebacker primarily played defensive end for the Calgary Stampeders, racking up 60 tackles, 14 sacks and a forced fumble in two seasons. However, his role will be slightly different for Jets head coach Todd Bowles' defense.
"I'm playing the 'Will,' which is pretty much a standup defensive end," he said. "What I was doing during those three years up in Canada, I was just rushing the edge, but now I'm going to do a little more coverage."
Bishop believes the knowledge he gained playing in Canada will help him as a pass rusher moving forward. "Like I said, you're off the ball there so you have to use your hands a lot more and that's going to give me the advantage and more of a skillset coming back down here," he said. In fact, he attributed his hands as one of his strengths.
The former Stampeder is animated about more than getting that yard back — he is just happy for the opportunity. "I'm just excited to be playing football, period," he said. "This is something I've wanted to do and I'm just happy to be here and looking forward to putting my best foot forward."
Furthermore, he thinks he fits the bill for the Jets' need at OLB. "I didn't know the defense in detail, but from what I've seen, just watching the Jets play, everything I've heard, I feel like the Jets defense fits me well," he said. "I came here, got a good vibe from the coaches, the GM, and it's a good opportunity to come in here as far as depth-wise and be in the city of New York. You make it here, you can make it anywhere."
Heading into the offseason, GM Mike Maccagnan and Bowles talked about their goal to become younger and faster on the defensive side of the ball. After practice today Bowles revisited the topic: "Yeah I thought we wanted to have overall team speed. Obviously at linebacker you always want to be able to be a little faster at each position, so we thought we got better in the draft and overall team speed.
"I was in Miami when Cameron Wake got there and we took him from Canada [Wake played two years for the BC Lions]. Sometimes it takes guys time to develop and you can develop over there and come back over here and be good players or can develop over there and have a career over there," Bowles added. "We saw some things in Freddie, not just the sacks, but as far as him playing the position and knowing how to play the position that made him appealing to us and made us want to sign him."
In two days of rookie minicamp, Bishop has two "would-be" sacks (players were not in pads), showcasing his ability as a pass rusher as well as his speed.