Sunday, August 20, 2017

phil loadholt

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Interior Offensive Line
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Welcome to the last installment of the Vikings Territory Training Camp Primer series focusing on Alex Boone, Pat Elflein, Joe Berger, and the Minnesota Vikings interior offensive line.

It’s no secret the Vikings’ offensive line had a rough 2016 season. Multiple players who were expected to make an impact up front were lost for a variety of reasons; Mike Harris didn’t play a snap all year due to an undisclosed illness or injury, Phil Loadholt retired before the season, and tackles Matt Kalil, Andre Smith and Jake Long all suffered season-ending injures.

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Image courtesy of Chris Price

Over the course of the last few weeks, Austin Belisle and myself have asked you to make predictions about how the Minnesota Vikings’ 2016 training camp will play out. Meanwhile, Adam Patrick compiled consensus rankings of the “Top 30” most important Vikings players of 2016, with help from 14 knowledgable Vikings writers. Below is the genesis of all that work.

We’ve used your votes, combined with the rankings, to try and assemble one of the most collaborative roster predictions you’ll be able to find anywhere.

Of course, a few questions remain despite the compilation of input, so Austin and I did our best to fill in the blanks. That leads us to our final installment of “10 Camp Questions” in which the tenth question for you, the readers of Vikings Territory, are invited to answer.

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Phil Loadholt to Retire
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Phil Loadholt’s career with the Minnesota Vikings is coming to an abrupt, if unsurprising end. As first reported by Adam Schefter and Adam Caplan, Loadholt informed the team that he plans to retire in the coming days.

Loadholt, who’s played just 11 of the Vikings’ 32 games since 2014, was attempting a comeback from last season’s torn achilles. That injury, coupled with a torn pectoral muscle the season before, made it difficult for Loadholt to ever get back to full strength. According to Matt Vensel of the Star Tribune, Loadholt suffered yet another injury setback at the end of spring practices, likely finalizing his decision to hang up the cleats for good.

Will Hunter Outmuscle Robison?
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

This 10-part series focuses on the biggest questions facing the Vikings as they head into Mankato for their training camp festivities. Be sure to answer the first six questions HEREHEREHEREHERE, HERE, and HERE.

CAMP QUESTION #7 – ‘Hunting’ for a starting spot?

In the weight room, Minnesota Vikings defensive end Danielle Hunter is a man amongst boys. He’s one of the team’s strongest, most explosive players. But on the field, Hunter is still learning the intricacies of the game. The second-year defensive end has all of the gifts to be a special defender in the NFL, and head coach Mike Zimmer knows his ‘project’ is close to a breakthrough.

“One of the big things that I’ve been talking to him all the time is being low and coming off the ball,” Zimmer said, per ESPN’s Ben Goessling. “His first step, he’s got a great first step and he’s got to make sure he threatens the offensive line with that and being an athlete, really.”

Is the Offensive Line Fixed?
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

This 10-part series focuses on the biggest questions facing the Vikings as they head into Mankato for their training camp festivities. Be sure to answer the first five questions HEREHERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE.

CAMP QUESTION #6 – MENDED OR MAKESHIFT?

There’s a belief hanging around the Minnesota Vikings that the team will suddenly contend for a Lombardi Trophy. After an offseason of free agent signings and coaching changes, the Vikings appear destined for greatness beyond the Wild Card round of the playoffs. Veterans are returning to full strength, new additions are pushing for starting jobs, and Teddy Bridgewater appears ready to take the next step.

But they won’t have a shot at a Super Bowl if the offensive line is broken. It’s the most crucial question facing the Vikings heading into 2016, and it’s a question that won’t be answered until the regular season begins. General manager Rick Spielman set his roster up to succeed, but it’s on the players at each position to embrace the competition and improve on a disappointing 2015 season.

Old faces, new names, and unknowns make up the 16-man depth chart, which will surely experience changes as the team runs through training camp. A step-by-step walk down the line reveals the strengths, weaknesses, and question marks facing the unit as they prepare for a challenging offseason.

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