By Judd Zulgad and Chip Scoggins
Tight end Visanthe Shiancoe received a copy of the Vikings playbook from Christian Ponder this summer when the tight end spent a couple of days at the IMG Madden Football Academy in Bradenton, Fla.
Ponder had been given a portion of the playbook after he was drafted during the brief time the lockout was lifted. “I’m not going to get too specific but I like it,” Shiancoe said after going through drills with Ponder and others Tuesday at the Larry Fitzgerald-led workouts on the University of Minnesota campus.
Asked to elaborate, Shiancoe said: “I just like the way that they use their personnel. … It’s wide receiver friendly. It’s very receiver friendly. I don’t mean it’s pass heavy at all, I’m not saying that, but it allows a lot of options, a lot of adjustments.”
Shiancoe would not say how much he expected to be on the field at the same time as second-round pick and fellow tight end Kyle Rudolph. The reality is that with Bill Musgrave taking over as the Vikings offensive coordinator, the team's offense likely will resemble what the Atlanta Falcons have been doing.
Musgrave had been the quarterbacks coach in Atlanta before being hired by the Vikings.
“Just look at the Falcons. Look at the Falcons," Shiancoe said when asked about what version of the West Coast system the Vikings might run. "That’s all I’m going to say about that.”
There is good reason for Shiancoe to be excited if that's the case. The Falcons' second-leading receiver last season was tight end Tony Gonzalez, who had 70 receptions for 656 yards with six touchdowns.
Ponder gets more comfortable
Ponder admits he had a tough day throwing the ball in workouts at the Gophers complex on Monday in his first throwing session in several weeks.
Ponder returned Tuesday and looked a lot more comfortable. Ponder missed the conditioning portion while he looked for a place to live in the Twin Cities. Ponder arrived in time to throw to receivers and had a much better showing.
“I think it was important to get yesterday under my belt,” Ponder said. “Get that first day of throwing in. It was pretty bad. Today was a lot better.”
Ponder looked rusty Monday after making the 22-hour drive from drive from Florida. Ponder said his conditioning suffered after eating fast food the entire trip.
“That 22 hours killed me,” he said. “I was pretty lackadaisical yesterday. Today was definitely better. Get that first sweat out yesterday.”
Shiancoe went through his first workout with the group on Tuesday. “Yeah I think I look more athletic than he does,” Ponder joked. “He’s definitely a freak.”
Ponder threw passes to Shiancoe, Rudolph and wide receiver Jaymar Johnson. Even though they are not facing a defense, Ponder said the work is valuable in terms of establishing some chemistry and familiarity before training camp starts.
“I think people don’t realize how important getting that chemistry is,” Ponder said. “Everyone runs routes completely differently. To get on the same page and start working with these guys and get comfortable is big. It’s definitely a big step that I need to get comfortable with before training camp starts.”
It also gives Ponder a glimpse of how much faster the NFL is. “I think yesterday I was one step behind everybody,” he said. “Today was a little better but still some room to speed up. My drops have to be a lot quicker. It’s definitely different than college, in a good way though.”
Although Shiancoe could view Rudolph as a threat to his playing time, the veteran made it clear that won't be the case.
"That’s going to be my buddy, that’s going to be my pal right there," Shiancoe said. "We’re going to get it going and I’m going to show him everything I know.”
So what will Rudolph be surprised about at the NFL level? “It’s real tactical and technical here," Shiancoe said. "Everybody’s fast and everybody’s big, so I’m going to let him know that that weight room is going to be very,very important. Very, very important.”
The expectation is that once a new Collective Bargaining Agreement is reached in the coming days that wide receiver Sidney Rice will be a free agent. The Vikings likely will have a 72-hour window to sign Rice and if that doesn't happen he can test the open market.
"To tell you the truth, I’m just going to stay away from that topic," Shiancoe said when asked about his teammate. "Hopefully, he stays. But if he doesn’t, I know he has to do what’s best for his career and himself. We’ll see. Hopefully, he does stay. I would like to have him on the team.”