Vikings TE Visanthe Shiancoe: ‘We just have to be more efficient … and not beat ourselves’

As the favorite red-zone target of Brett Favre, Visanthe Shiancoe scored the second-most touchdowns (11) among tight ends last season. At 6-4, 250, he’s easy to find and creates plenty of matchup problems for defensive backs. Shiancoe talked to Sporting News’ Vinnie Iyer about his upcoming youth camp, his first season with Favre and how tough it is to play in the NFC North:

Visanthe Shiancoe's 11 TD receptions last season equaled the number he had in his first six years in the NFL.
Visanthe Shiancoe’s 11 TD receptions last season equaled the number he had in his first six years in the NFL.

Q: Can you tell us more about the special event you have coming up for the offseason?
A: I am working with the Cardinals’ Darnell Dockett at a football camp for high school-age kids. It’s free, and we expect about 300 kids from the D.C. area in attendance. We’re having it June 28, in Maryland. We’ll be helping them a lot with the individual drills.

Q: What’s the mind-set of you and your Vikings’ teammates after just falling short of the Super Bowl last season?
A: You just have to rebound. You can’t think too much about last year, and just move forward to doing better the coming season. This offseason has become a learning process. Yeah, we made some mistakes in the game that—not to take anything away from the Saints—maybe cost us. We just have to work on not making them again.

Q: What’s been the offseason like for you, personally?
A: I’ve been doing the usual—working out, staying in shape, trying to come back a little faster, a little stronger.

Q: How fun was it playing in the Vikings’ offense last season?
A: It’s like we had all the pieces of the puzzles filled in for a finished product. The young guys came through. It’s a player-friendly West Coast style, where it’s easy to get to get everyone involved.

Q: And what was it like with Brett Favre running that show?
A: Brett was here to orchestrate it all. He makes great decisions and trusts his receiver corps. He works with your strengths and takes your game to the next level. With Brett’s experience from being around different personnel and dealing with some adversity, he has great people skills. He recognizes your strengths and weaknesses.

Q: Obviously, the offense caters well to tight ends. What stands out when it comes to your game?
A: It’s an especially tight end-friendly offense. It’s give and take. Take away the tight end, and the outside receivers are open. If you don’t hold the down the middle of the field, it opens the tight end for several catches. I know my position is a crucial part when it comes to the offense flourishing.

Q: You’ve said you’re hopeful Favre comes back, but how has Tarvaris Jackson improved in the past year?
A: Nothing will change in our offensive approach if it’s Tarvaris. He has done a lot of growing up over the past year, getting more comfortable while learning, watching. Having Favre ahead of him was a blessing in that sense. His development has been overshadowed because he’s now doing it behind the scenes. If it turns out he’ll need to "re-debut," he’ll be ready.

Q: It seems like everyone in the NFC North is reloading to gun for your title. How would you assess the division?
A: When most people talk about our division, it’s "Black and Blue," physical and run-oriented. As an offensive player, we experience a lot of box defenses, where at safety or linebacker, they’re man-on-man, trying to be as a physical as possible. Those are the key matchups for a tight end, trying to draw the attention away. The safeties in this division play smash-mouth, and then you have the disruptive linebackers, like in the 3-4 in Green Bay. In that sense, we play in the hardest division.

Q: What do you say to those who think the Vikings’ playoff window is closing?
A: Those are just opinions that don’t mean much. I don’t like to pay attention to "he say, she say." There were those who doubted what Favre could do last season. We can only control what we do on the field.

Q: The Vikings added more depth behind Adrian Peterson and it’s been well-documented they are helping him with his ball security. What can we expect from him this season?
A: I think he’s explosive as he’s ever been. He’s dedicated to work on his weaknesses. I see it every day, and I think he’ll be even better, more confident.

Q: What’s the key for the Vikings to get back to the NFC championship game this season?
A: We’re excited to be able to start off the season with a rematch of the NFC championship against the Saints. So we’ll know a lot about our team early. We know we have the great players on offense, defense and special teams to get back there. We just have to be more efficient, do all the little things and not beat ourselves.

Vinnie Iyer is a writer for Sporting News. E-mail him at viyer@sportingnews.com.

As the favorite red-zone target of Brett Favre, Visanthe Shiancoe scored the second-most touchdowns (11) among tight ends last season. At 6-4, 250, he’s easy to find and creates plenty of matchup problems for defensive backs. Shiancoe talked to Sporting News’ Vinnie Iyer about his upcoming youth camp, his first season with Favre and how tough it is to play in the NFC North:

Visanthe Shiancoe's 11 TD receptions last season equaled the number he had in his first six years in the NFL.
Visanthe Shiancoe’s 11 TD receptions last season equaled the number he had in his first six years in the NFL.

Q: Can you tell us more about the special event you have coming up for the offseason?
A: I am working with the Cardinals’ Darnell Dockett at a football camp for high school-age kids. It’s free, and we expect about 300 kids from the D.C. area in attendance. We’re having it June 28, in Maryland. We’ll be helping them a lot with the individual drills.

Q: What’s the mind-set of you and your Vikings’ teammates after just falling short of the Super Bowl last season?
A: You just have to rebound. You can’t think too much about last year, and just move forward to doing better the coming season. This offseason has become a learning process. Yeah, we made some mistakes in the game that—not to take anything away from the Saints—maybe cost us. We just have to work on not making them again.

Q: What’s been the offseason like for you, personally?
A: I’ve been doing the usual—working out, staying in shape, trying to come back a little faster, a little stronger.

Q: How fun was it playing in the Vikings’ offense last season?
A: It’s like we had all the pieces of the puzzles filled in for a finished product. The young guys came through. It’s a player-friendly West Coast style, where it’s easy to get to get everyone involved.

Q: And what was it like with Brett Favre running that show?
A: Brett was here to orchestrate it all. He makes great decisions and trusts his receiver corps. He works with your strengths and takes your game to the next level. With Brett’s experience from being around different personnel and dealing with some adversity, he has great people skills. He recognizes your strengths and weaknesses.

Q: Obviously, the offense caters well to tight ends. What stands out when it comes to your game?
A: It’s an especially tight end-friendly offense. It’s give and take. Take away the tight end, and the outside receivers are open. If you don’t hold the down the middle of the field, it opens the tight end for several catches. I know my position is a crucial part when it comes to the offense flourishing.

Q: You’ve said you’re hopeful Favre comes back, but how has Tarvaris Jackson improved in the past year?
A: Nothing will change in our offensive approach if it’s Tarvaris. He has done a lot of growing up over the past year, getting more comfortable while learning, watching. Having Favre ahead of him was a blessing in that sense. His development has been overshadowed because he’s now doing it behind the scenes. If it turns out he’ll need to "re-debut," he’ll be ready.

Q: It seems like everyone in the NFC North is reloading to gun for your title. How would you assess the division?
A: When most people talk about our division, it’s "Black and Blue," physical and run-oriented. As an offensive player, we experience a lot of box defenses, where at safety or linebacker, they’re man-on-man, trying to be as a physical as possible. Those are the key matchups for a tight end, trying to draw the attention away. The safeties in this division play smash-mouth, and then you have the disruptive linebackers, like in the 3-4 in Green Bay. In that sense, we play in the hardest division.

Q: What do you say to those who think the Vikings’ playoff window is closing?
A: Those are just opinions that don’t mean much. I don’t like to pay attention to "he say, she say." There were those who doubted what Favre could do last season. We can only control what we do on the field.

Q: The Vikings added more depth behind Adrian Peterson and it’s been well-documented they are helping him with his ball security. What can we expect from him this season?
A: I think he’s explosive as he’s ever been. He’s dedicated to work on his weaknesses. I see it every day, and I think he’ll be even better, more confident.

Q: What’s the key for the Vikings to get back to the NFC championship game this season?
A: We’re excited to be able to start off the season with a rematch of the NFC championship against the Saints. So we’ll know a lot about our team early. We know we have the great players on offense, defense and special teams to get back there. We just have to be more efficient, do all the little things and not beat ourselves.

Vinnie Iyer is a writer for Sporting News. E-mail him at viyer@sportingnews.com.

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