Shiancoe likes the versatility

Vikings tight end Visanthe Shiancoe is flourishing this season as the team gets him more involved by moving him around. See what head coach Brad Childress and Shiancoe had to say about the subject, and see the numbers as proof of his increased production.

Tight end Visanthe Shiancoe isn't interested in revisiting his initial season with the Vikings last year, when he struggled with dropped passes and inconsistent play. He prefers to focus on the present and the future, two places in which his confidence continues to burgeon.

Head coach Brad Childress calls strong work ethic sweat equity. The sometimes demonstrative and always intense Shiancoe puts it in his own terms.

"I busted my ass so hard (in practice) that I expect nothing but the best. I have such a high standard for myself now. I see myself amongst the best. I will not accept anything less than that. I work so hard in practice that in the game it comes so easy," Shiancoe said. "Whenever I want to step up my play in the game, I try to practice a little harder and probably try to stay a little longer so it will be easier in the game. Nothing will be new."

Shiancoe does work hard. He's often seen after practice catching passes from assistant coaches. The tight end creates difficult angles for making those post-practice catches by falling to his knees, turning his back to the passer or any other way he come up with to improve his trade.

So far, so good this season.

Shiancoe is the only Viking that has a catch in every game. He is fourth on the team with 26 receptions (one short of his season total last year), third with 353 receiving yards (already surpassing last year's total by 30 yards) and tied for the team lead with four touchdowns (he had one last year).

Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars his 60 receiving yards accounted for half of the team total.

Some of that success can be attributed to the Vikings lining him up in different spots up and down the line of scrimmage as he has become more familiar with the offense and as his consistency instills more confidence in the coaches to be able to count on him.

Childress said Shiancoe made a point to tell the coaching staff during his 2007 free-agent season that he was looking for the opportunity to play out wide on occasion.

"Part of the recruitment process when you go through free agency is that he wanted to be able to do things besides play next to the tackle," Childress said. "Now, he is a good in-line blocker. He has done a good job with that. He has the skills and ability to be able to move him around – to be able to get him deep, to be able to extend him wide for the formation. It creates problems for opposing defenses because they have to decide if they are going to play him with a corner, a safety or a linebacker. He is able to exploit some of those with his size and speed."

It's a strategy he lobbied for and one he is enjoying in his second season with the team.

"I want to get spread around. I want to be used, not just on the line. I want to be flanked out and maybe in the slot, etc., etc. I'm glad Brad and (offensive coordinator Darrell) Bevell put me in that position," Shiancoe said. "That space is different. That's like coming from a tank in somebody's house to a pond, like fish. You've got to get used to that space and working in that space."

It worked just fine for Shiancoe on his 40-yard reception Sunday. With fellow tight end Jeff Dugan next to the tackle on the left side, Shiancoe was split out wide. Dugan ran a seam route and Shiancoe cut underneath him across the field to the right, where several defenders bit on a play-action fake. According to Shiancoe, about three defenders went with Dugan, leaving the more accomplished receiver open. The ball got tipped, but Shiancoe still made the catch to help set up a fourth-quarter field goal and extend the Vikings' lead to 23-10.

Shiancoe is hoping to keep the momentum going on the bigger stage of Sunday night football when the Vikings host the Chicago Bears for sole possession of first place in the NFC North.

"That is probably the most wired you're going to see me," he said. "I just like it out there. Everybody is fighting, everybody is scratching. Everybody is elbowing. Some people are kneeing, some people are twisting people's ankles under the pile. Some people are gut-checking people under the pile. It's just that tenacity out there, I just love it. It gets me wired."

NOTES

  • The Vikings have a couple of Thanksgiving-related visits in the community scheduled Tuesday. From 3-4 p.m., guard Steve Hutchinson and his wife Landyn will host an early Thanksgiving dinner for approximately 100 people (patients and their families) at the University of Minnesota Fairview Children's Hospital. Linebacker Ben Leber and his wife Abby will lead a group of players, including linebackers Chad Greenway, Vinny Ciurciu and defensive end Brian Robison, to visit children in their rooms who aren't able to attend the dinner. They will pass out Qwest "Hug-A-Bears," as Qwest helps sponsor the Vikings' Community Tuesdays.

  • The weekend is Vikings Alumni Weekend. John Randle will be inducted into the Vikings Ring of Honor at halftime of Sunday night's game, and former Vikings will be signing autographs from 1 to 2 p.m. at the Sears Court at the Mall of America on Saturday. Chuck Foreman, Randall McDaniel, Walker Lee Ashley, John Randle, Jack Brewer, Carl Hilton, David Howard, Curtis Rouse and Nate Wright are all scheduled to appear. Autographs will be limited to one per person per player on a first-come, first-serve basis.


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