Visanthe Shiancoe (Brian Nelson/Viking Update)
Vikings tight end Visanthe Shiancoe returned to practice Monday and says he is 100 percent after suffering a hamstring injury in the first week of training camp. Plus, initial reaction from Chad Greenway on his five-year contract extension, depth chart revelations and more.
Vikings tight end Visanthe Shiancoe says he is 100 percent after missing the entire preseason with a hamstring injury.
Shiancoe injured his hamstring in the first week of training camp in Mankato after catching a pass and sat out the entire preseason. He made a brief return to practice last week, but that lasted only one practice.
“I’m about 100 percent right now. I’m good to go. I’m excited,” he said after returning to practice on Monday as the Vikings began preparations for their regular-season opener against the San Diego Chargers.
In his absence, the Vikings were able to give second-round pick Kyle Rudolph extended playing time and he performed well. Offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave said he had been teasing Shiancoe about how well Rudolph had been playing in the preseason, but the Vikings were left with only three tight ends on the roster after cutting down to the league-mandated 53 players on Saturday and Musgrave’s offense calls for multiple tight ends on the field often.
“We’re looking forward to Shank being out there because he poses problems for defenses. Without him, I would say there are a handful of concepts that would be fun for us to put back into the offense when he returns,” Musgrave said after Thursday’s preseason finale.
Shiancoe joked that he thinks all of the skills guys besides the quarterback on the field should be tight ends.
“We’ll somehow make that work. I don’t know how we’ll make it work, but we’ll make it work,” he said.
All joking aside, the tight end is going to be as important as ever to the Vikings offense, and the return of Shiancoe for the regular-season opener should be helpful while the Vikings start preparations for the Chargers.
“We watched a little bit of film on them today. We’re just going to continue to watch film on them and see where those vulnerabilities are and, hey, exploit them. That’s what football is.”
GREENWAY STAYS GROUNDED AFTER EXTENSION
Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway signed a five-year contract extension Monday after being given the franchise tag earlier this year that was scheduled to pay him $10.1 million in 2011. ESPN reported that the deal is worth $40 million.
The move should free up some salary-cap room, but it will also keep Greenway as a staple of the Vikings defense for years to come. Greenway, a 2006 first-round pick of the Vikings, blew out his knee in his third play of the preseason his rookie year, but has been a starter ever since.
“I think the biggest thing was obviously getting drafted at the right place and the right defense. That was where it started,” Greenway said.
He led the Vikings in tackles for the last three years and was selected by his teammates as the defensive MVP of the team in 2010. Last year he had 149 tackles and a sack.
“I think the next moment for us is to restore what we had in 2009, that confidence and swagger that we can get to the playoffs and win a really tough division. Personally, just to go out there and continue to be a consistent linebacker every week. Obviously the big plays will come. You’ve got to make those.”
Greenway started out playing nine-man football in South Dakota, went to the University of Iowa, where they first tried him as a safety and quarterback, and eventually worked his way up to becoming a first-round draft pick. Through it all, he hasn’t lost his sense of humor or forgotten his farming roots in South Dakota.
“I called my mother and said I was able to sign a five-year extension and I’ll be here,” Greenway said. “She was like, ‘First of all, I’m happy we don’t have to buy new jerseys and you’ll be home,’ because of course the grandkids are so close to home. Then she said she had to go rake some hay so she had to go. Whatever.”
PRACTICE SQUAD LEANS TOWARD OFFENSE
The Vikings announced filling seven of the eight spots on their practice squad Monday and those moves leaned heavily toward the offensive side of the ball. Six of the seven spots filled were on the offensive side of the ball.
Wide receiver Emmanuel Arceneaux, the former CFL receiver who received a $75,000 signing bonus, led the list of those recalled to the practice squad, along with second-year offensive lineman Chris DeGeare. DeGeare started out training camp as the starting right guard and ended up on the waiver wire during the roster cutdown to 53 players Saturday.
Also on the practice squad were WR Stephen Burton, FBs Matt Asiata and Ryan D’Imperio, RB Caleb King and DL Cedric McKinley.
The final roster spot is likely being held open in hopes that TE Allen Reisner clears waivers. Reisner was released Sunday when the Vikings needed a roster spot to sign veteran LB Xavier Adibi, who was released by the Houston Texans.
Head coach Leslie Frazier said Christian Ponder “may” end up as the No. 2 quarterback and then the Vikings will search for ways to get Joe Webb involved in the offense.
After the contract extension for Greenway, Frazier said a contract for RB Adrian Peterson is “being discussed.”
Jamarca Sanford has been named the starter at strong safety, but Frazier said the team would try to rotate Tyrell Johnson into the mix.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.