Notebook: Shiancoe Remains Optimistic

Tight end Visanthe Shiancoe was coming off one of the biggest games of his career and his belief is that the Minnesota Vikings are close to getting on a roll. If you're looking for optimism, Shiancoe has plenty of that.

The Vikings lost their fifth game in six tries, but that didn't stop tight end Visanthe Shiancoe from being convinced that the team is close – very close, according to him.

"We all know that we're right there. As soon as we just get that one break, this is a real good team and we have a lot of good players – a lot of good players. Once we get all that together, then we'll be good," Shiancoe said after Sunday's loss.

It wasn't just a company line uttered for a quote sheet. Shiancoe spoke with conviction that indicated he truly believes that is the case. His head coach, Brad Childress, seems to be leading the charge to try to keep the players optimistic.

"You keep these guys alive just because you can see those glimmers. If you can play the way you did with the first kickoff, the first defensive series, even though we had the first defensive (pass interference) in the first series, there is no reason you can't prolong that in the football game," Childress said, referring to the 7-0 lead the Vikings took on the opening drive of Sunday's 23-16 loss. "Obviously, some of those things are self-inflicted. Some of them are not making a play when a play is available – whether that be on offense or defense. System-wise, you show that to those guys." The record (2-5) this season doesn't reflect the positive nature of Shiancoe and Childress' claims, but the Vikings' margin of defeats might offer a slightly brighter picture.

After winning their first game 24-3 against Atlanta, they have lost to the Lions by three points in overtime, to the Chiefs by three points, to Green Bay by seven points, to Dallas by 10 points. The latest defeat came at the hands of the Philadelphia Eagles and Brad Childress' old boss, Andy Reid.

On Monday, Reid offered support for Childress.

"It was obviously good to get a win against what I consider an up-and-coming team, a team that I think Brad Childress has done a great job with. He's played some pretty good football teams this year and he's done it with a variety of quarterbacks," Reid said. "I think once that position gets settled for him, he's going to be very hard to stop. It's tough to do when you've got a different guy in there each week."

The Vikings started the season with Tarvaris Jackson directing the offense at quarterback, but a strained groin in the second game gave way to Kelly Holcomb, who lost the next two games. Jackson entered back into the equation to split the next two games but fractured the index finger on his throwing hand in the sixth game of the year. That allowed Holcomb to start on Sunday in a loss to the Eagles, but he injured his neck during a third-quarter sack and gave way to Brooks Bollinger.

The starter for Sunday is very much up in the air, although Childress said Jackson will start if he's healthy enough. No matter what, Shiancoe remained undaunted with his beliefs.

"I know that this offense is going to roll. A lot of people count us out, but we're not out at all. What are we, 2-5? I understand how it goes – people are down on us, but we're not down on ourselves. It's a long season. If we go 11-5, then what? It's the NFC, man."

An 11-5 record would require the Vikings to go undefeated the rest of the season – an unlikely task, to say the least. But to even make the playoffs, they probably can only afford one or two more losses in the remaining nine games.

"You have to press on and compete," Childress said. "These are tough times. Nobody likes them, but there are opportunities that are there and once again I need to make sure that I'm continuing to explore all the opportunities to give our guys a chance to use their skills."

Shiancoe got the biggest opportunity of his career on Sunday, catching a career-high five passes for 50 yards and his first touchdown since the end of the 2004 season.

The Vikings appeared to enter the game with intentions to get tight end Visanthe Shiancoe involved early. He caught his touchdown on the first drive of the game, but that would be the last touchdown the Vikings would get.

"It was kind of the way it was set up and he answered the call and made the catches that he needed to catch," receiver Bobby Wade said. "The touchdown was big for us, for our momentum and he some bigger catches later in the game, which was nice."

"The tight end is always open, so we took advantage of that," Shiancoe said. "The coaches put in a good plan and we took advantage of that. We were hitting people that were open. … We were spreading the ball around and that's what allowed us to move the ball like that.

"Whatever the coaches want me to do, that's what I'm going to do – play this position or play that position, that's what I'm going to do. They called my number a couple of times (on Sunday) and I took advantage of that and made some plays. I'm going to definitely do what I have to do to help this offense."

It needs all the help it can get, but Shiancoe wasn't going to doubt just yet.

"Nobody likes to lose. It's just simple mistakes that we're making that cause us to lose," he said. "We're right there. We've got to have trust in each other."

NOTES

  • Tarvaris Jackson will be the starter if he's healthy enough to go, Childress said Monday. Last week, Childress termed Jackson's health, with his fractured index finger, as a game-time decision. "If Tarvaris can, he'll play," Childress said.

  • Quarterback Kelly Holcomb's serious-looking neck injury during a sack didn't show any broken bones or spinal damage. Childress continued to compared it to a whiplash-like injury, but said Holcomb was "extremely sore" on Monday.

  • Childress said Rick Spielman, the Vikings' vice president of player personnel, has a list of quarterbacks to call if needed, which will probably depend on Holcomb's status for the weekend. "I'm pretty sure we can get a couple of healthy ones somewhere along the line, within the building," Childress said.

  • Childress had the Vikings losing the battle for explosive plays, as the Jets had six and the Vikings had five.

  • Right tackle Ryan Cook has a grade one AC (shoulder) sprain. Childress said that will hopefully settle down quickly. With a grade one sprain, he should be able to play this week, according to Adam Caplan of Scout.com and Footballinjuries.com.

  • Bobby Wade has a hyperextended knee and a bruised bone, but Childress said he was looking pretty good moving around on Monday.

  • Linebacker Vinny Ciurciu "ran OK today," Childress said. He has been battling an ankle injury.

  • Safety Dwight Smith "ran better as well" on Monday, according to Childress.


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