More production coming from tight ends?
The West Coast Offense that Brad Childress is trying to build with the Vikings is one that typically gets a lot of production from the tight end, particularly ones that can catch the ball.
The Vikings had a pretty good pass-catching tight end in Jermaine Wiggins, but they wanted someone who could provide a more vertical threat to that dimension of the passing game. The signing of Visanthe Shiancoe is expected to offer that.
However, if the repetitions we’re seeing in training camp are any indication, veteran Jim Kleinsasser might see a lot more balls than he has in the past, as well.
“The tight end position has always been an important part of the West Coast offense,” offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said. “You can talk about [Jay] Novacek and Brent Jones, all those different tight ends that have played in this system. That is one that you would like to get big plays out of down the field but those are guys that are making a lot of catches and getting first downs, not necessarily 40-, 50-yard plays, but ones that are getting first downs for you.”
Kleinsasser in particular has been seeing a lot of action on plays of that type – a lot of nickel-and-dime, short, underneath the coverage, high-percentage, long-handoff-type passes that are designed to run the clock and keep the chains moving, and also in the Red Zone.
“Really, my focus is making sure when we were down there on the goal line was being able to establish the run,” Bevell added. “It is no secret that our offensive line is going to be the strength of our offense and we have to rely on them to be able to punch it in. When you do that, when you establish the run that makes those play-action passes just a little bit easier. [If we do that] we are able to slip a couple of tight ends out. With Jimmy in particular, Jimmy is doing a great job. He is working hard. A lot of times he is an overlooked guy in the pass game because he run-blocks so well. It is like an extra tackle out there on the end. He is doing a great job. He has got great hands and he has been very reliable for us and we are looking for him to continue to do that.”
In their second season, the coaches have become more impressed with Kleinsasser’s potential catching the ball. They didn’t need more convincing about his impact as a blocker.
“I think we are learning; obviously we have a year under our belt with Jimmy,” Bevell said. “We know what type of inline blocker he is. We know that he can definitely change the line of scrimmage. I think he is an underrated tight end in terms of pass receiving.”
Shiancoe is also an incredible physical specimen, with outstanding size and speed for the position. The coaches don’t appear to be at quite the same comfort level with him yet, but his upside potential is virtually unlimited.
“Visanthe, we are still learning him,” according to Bevell. “I think he needs to be that complete tight end that we talk about that he can hold up on his inline blocking, but also we expect big things from him in the pass game.”
Is character code out the window with Evans signing?
On the surface, the Vikings’ signing of DT Fred Evans was a surprise. For the Vikings, who have clearly steered clear of players with character issues, they made a pretty high-profile leap of faith in taking a chance on Evans, whose well-publicized incident in Miami was nothing short of embarrassing.
But the Vikings are convinced he’s ready to straighten up and fly right. Hopefully they are correct.
As a player, Evans has a lot of upside potential.
“[We are] looking forward to getting Fred on the field,” defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said. “He is a young player who is still developing. He did some good things when he was in Miami, although he only had a chance to play in one regular season game. Our scouts, Rick Spielman and George Paton, they were both down with him at Miami. They are very familiar with him and he comes recommended by those guys. We have watched him on tape and we understood that he is a very good player. Karl Dunbar really liked what he saw, I like what I saw, and we are looking forward to his joining our football team.”
The hope is that Evans can provide quality depth behind both Pat Williams and Kevin Williams inside on the defensive line.
“We need a quality backup to Pat for sure, so he will get a chance to work both that backup of Pat but also for Kevin as well,” Frazier said. “We think he can spell both positions and do well. We really need a guy, when Pat is out of the game, to be able to hold anchor for us.”
Initial reaction says the addition of Evans sends a signal that the team is not comfortable with veteran Howard Green, who was signed to fill that role during the offseason. Frazier, at least publicly, refutes that notion.
“No, he is doing some good things,” according to Frazier. “It's just a matter of a guy who was out there who we thought could help our football team and give us quality depth. No slight against Howard; he is working hard and he is doing some good things and we expect him just to continue to improve. As you mentioned, he has been out of ball a little bit, so he is going to continue to work and get better.”
Robison has a nice little package
We might have to start a list of unique descriptions from coach Brad Childress, who has taken coach-speak to new heights in complexity.
Here's what he had to say about rookie defensive end Brian Robison: "He plays with very good leverage and a very high motor. He gives Bryant McKinnie fits just because of that leverage, his stature compared to that 6'8", so he gives him trouble with the speed rush and then coming underneath. He's got a nice little package; he's got a nice little wiggle to him."
A nice little package? A nice little wiggle to him? We're working on a glossary of Childress terminology.
>Winfield’s goals even higher
>Thigpen a quick study, and he has to be
>Bevell was primary playcaller against Rams
>Bollinger looking forward to Friday
>More consistency, accuracy from punters
>Daily reports from training camp: 1, 2, 3
>Ex-Viking Echemandu in running for job in Oakland
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