When Visanthe Shiancoe dropped a pass Sunday in practice, the miscue was startling. Such was the contrast between the 2009 edition and that of two years ago.
In 2007, the Viking tight end was a veritable comedy of errors, seemingly dropping one catchable ball after another. That pattern seemed to continue early last season until suddenly by mid-season, he seemed to make corrections, transforming those ” Hands of Stone” into soft fluffy pillows that the queen of England herself would feel proud to lay her head upon. By season’s end, he managed to lead NFC tight ends with seven touchdown catches.
“He’s come really far,” said Vikings receiver Bobby Wade, who was part of the same free-agent class as Shiancoe. “That first year was really tough trying to get acclimated to the offense, trying to find a way to get balls, being comfortable with the position he was playing. But last year was really big. I think he really stepped up. I think he took a lot of the responsibility on his back, as far as making plays on the field and in the seams. I think he really did that.”
Shiancoe eats linebackers when running seam routes down the middle of the field. By diverting the attention of a linebacker or safety, he relieves alot of pressure off running back Adrian Peterson.
So, by merely being a threat to make a big catch, he helps to make Peterson a better play-maker.
“He’s got good vertical speed,” coach Brad Childress said. “He has some skill and ability to get off the line of scrimmage. He has the ability to play in the air or play in space and create some holes for himself.”
After the first week of camp, it appears that he’s taken up where he left off. If anything, he’s improved his route running and seems poised for a huge break out year. Another play making piece of the early offensive puzzle.