Shiancoe setting his standards high

Visanthe Shiancoe finally proved to be the tight end the Vikings thought he could be, but it wasn't nearly good enough for the man who continues to set his goals extremely high. See what Shiancoe had to say about his past, his new goals and what he's doing to work toward them.

Visanthe Shiancoe had a big breakout season in 2008, but he's hardly satisfied with the performance.

Shiancoe unexpectedly became one of league's most productive pass-catching tight ends last year. He led the NFC and ranked third in the NFL for touchdowns by a tight end with seven. His TD receptions also tied the Vikings mark for the season and were one short of the franchise record of eight for a tight end, set by Joe Senser in 1981.

Still, Shiancoe is striving for more.

"I feel that I left a lot on the field. I was surprised I didn't do a little better than I did," he said. "I just feel like I could have done a little bit better, caught a few more touchdowns – a touchdown or two more and a hundred or two more yards."

He ended the season with 42 catches for 596 yards (a 14.2-yard average). Those numbers are dramatically better than what he had in 2007, when he caught 27 passes for 323 yards – which were both career bests for him at the time.

In fact, Shiancoe was more productive last year than he was in his first five NFL seasons combined. From 2003 to 2007, he had 576 yards, 20 short of his 2008 totals.

"Yeah, but I'm not content in any shape, form or fashion," he said. "Maybe I set my standards a little too high, or I (should) say I do set my standards high. It's not maybe – I do. What's really the limit? There's no limit, I feel."

So if there is no limit to what he could do, what would be the mark that leaves him satisfied with his performance in 2009, no matter who is the starting quarterback?

"Double what I did last year would leave me satisfied. It's a possibility. I've seen tight ends do that," Shiancoe said.

Senser, the Vikings' most accomplished pass-catching tight end in franchise history, had one season in which he topped the 1,000-yard mark, in 1981, when he had 79 receptions for 1,004 yards. Besides that one remarkable season, Senser never topped 45 catches or 500 yards.

More recently, Jermaine Wiggins was a decent pass-catching tight end for the Vikings, a player that could find the soft spots in zones. His career-best season was in 2004, when he caught 71 passes for 705 yards and four touchdowns. He spent one season under Brad Childress' coaching before the Vikings let him go and signed Shiancoe during 2007's free agency.

But even with a big year last season, Shiancoe insists he is working even harder this year.

"Working out, keep my diet consistent. I'm on a year-round diet, not like a month diet like other people," Shiancoe said. "I've stepped it up. You have to step it up, work out 'til you're totally exhausted. That's what you do so that when it comes time to play, it's a little easier."

Shiancoe's work ethic was evident all last year. The trouble he had in 2007 catching passes disappeared during the offseason, as he often stayed after practice and caught passes from coaches while contorting his body. He's not into studying other tight ends when it comes to the nuances of being a receiver. Instead, he focuses on other wide receivers.

"When it comes to the receiving game, I look at wide receivers rather than tight ends. I look at the good wide receivers, people on the team. I look at (Bernard) Berrian, (Bobby) Wade. I look at little things that T.O. (Terrell Owens) does, little things that Moss does – Santana from the Redskins. How he runs his routes, how guys here come in and out of their breaks. I learn from the best when it comes to things like that," he said.

Childress said Shiancoe's progress in 2008 was because of his familiarity with the offense, so he can concentrate on what the defense is trying to do. Rick Spielman, the Vikings' vice president of player personnel, credited a small adjustment in Shiancoe's equipment to owner Zygi Wilf.

"I have to probably give the most credit to Zygi Wilf over there," Spielman said earlier this month. "He was out watching practice one day and he told him to take the arm bands off his elbows, and after he took the arm bands off his elbows he hasn't dropped a pass since."

The combination of improvements has Shiancoe always striving for more.


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