Notebook: Reynaud finds value in versatility

Darius Reynaud's versatility keeps coming through in different ways, giving him a good shot at a roster spot. Rookie Chris DeGeare is also showing flexibility at an early stage, and Visanthe Shiancoe believes the offense can rebound in a hurry. All three talked about those issues.

In two-plus seasons with the Minnesota Vikings, Darius Reynaud has gained numerous titles: wide receiver, punt returner and now kick returner and running back.

Despite the injury concerns at wide receiver, Reynaud continues to work with the running backs and make the transition from a wide receiver last year to a back this year. He is averaging 3.2 yards on 11 carries in the preseason, but pass protection could be the key to him staying at running back.

"It's gone pretty good. It's gone fast. You gotta read protection while the quarterback is in cadence. The blitz is coming fast. I'm going up against linebackers and they're blitzing different guys. It's gone pretty good right now," Reynaud said.

"Nowadays I've just got to get more comfortable and it all happens as part of the cadence. I'm getting real comfortable with doing it now."

The Vikings decided to have Reynaud make the transition after the coaching staff saw what he had to offer as a running back while mimicking Reggie Bush as a scout-team member leading up to the NFC Championship Game last year.

The use of Reynaud as a kick return may be more out of necessity with the uncertainty surrounding Percy Harvin's health issues, but Reynaud certainly hasn't backed down from the additional work. His 38.3-yard average on three kick returns against Seattle Saturday night set a record for the team's highest kickoff return average in a single preseason game.

That average was bolstered by a 73-yard return.

"First of all, (special teams coordinator Brian Murphy) did a good job of preparing me (last) week. It happened just like it did in practice," Reynaud said. "When it opened up, I hit the hole. I've just got to do a better job of finishing."

He ended up being caught by Seahawks cornerback Cord Parks at Seattle's 23-yard line.

"I looked at the Jumbrotron, I turned around and the guy was right behind me," Reynaud said. "I was trying to switch hands and that slowed me down. He got me at the last second."

Reynaud was the team's main punt returner last year and looks to be in line for that job again this year. But his performance Saturday night returning kicks could have helped increase his roster value.

"I'm just trying to control what I can control and every time I get the ball in my hands, just do what I can do. Do the best and hopefully at the end of the last preseason game I'll still be around," he said.

DeGEARE IS DA GUARD

Rookie Chris DeGeare started all 12 games at left tackle his senior season at Wake Forest. He practiced most of the offseason and training camp at left guard with the Vikings. Now he could wind up being the starting right guard as incumbent Anthony Herrera is sliding over to center to fill in for an injured John Sullivan.

"I'm feeling a lot more comfortable on the right. It's just takes time, takes repetition to get everything down," DeGeare said after Saturday's performance against the Seahawks. "That's all I want to do week in and week out, just try to get my mind set up for playing right and playing left."

DeGeare practiced at right guard all week in preparation for the assignment, but he's being forced to learn how to handle the different footwork and technique on the left and right sides of the line.

"I'm just trying to do whatever they tell me to do. I'm just trying to get down my technique on the left and the right side," he said. "I think that's probably my biggest concern right now is to get my technique down to go right to left and left to right."

OFFENSIVE REBOUND?

Tight end Visanthe Shiancoe knows the first-team offense didn't click as well as expected Saturday night. With a shuffled offensive line and new receivers entering the equation, injuries have taken a toll.

"We're going to get that on track. We just need a little time. Definitely the backups are going to step up. We've got too many weapons and too much talent on this offense to even miss a beat," Shiancoe said.

Javon Walker was signed Tuesday. The Vikings traded for Greg Camarillo Wednesday. And Percy Harvin has been mostly absent, although he played Saturday night. That's a lot of new blood at receiver.

Still, Shiancoe said the responsibilities for the offensive struggles are on every position.

Asked what needs to happen to find consistency on offense, Shiancoe said: "A lot. I think every position had their faults (Saturday night). Every single position. Definitely these next couple of weeks are going to have to be some serious business when it comes to practicing and getting on the same page."


Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.

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