Tuesday, July 26, 2016

phil loadholt

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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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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

This part of one of our ten part series focusing on the biggest questions facing the Vikings as they head into Mankato for their training camp festivities. The first question that comes to mind, one that will certainly impact the makeup of this roster greatly, is the health of three veteran Vikings that ended last season too injured to play.

PHIL LOADHOLT

He’s bravely faced the task of recovering from the torn Achilles tendon that caused him to miss all of 2015. He has already taken a significant pay cut for the chance to be a Viking in 2016. Still, Rick Spielman and company landed themselves a rather large contingency plan when they signed free agent tackle Andre Smith to a one-year deal. Not only is Smith a “Plan B” in the event that Loadholt isn’t healthy, but he is decent competition for a fully healthy Loadholt to contend with.

During OTAs, Loadholt declared himself 100% recovered and was eager to participate.

“I feel like I’m moving pretty well,” said Loadholt at the time. “I got some things I’ve got to get better at obviously, but I’m working hard to get better and those things and be ready to roll.”

The season before last, Loadholt also missed the final five games with a shoulder injury, meaning the Vikings have had to make due without him for quite some time now and a player that can’t stay on the field loses their value to a team very quickly.

Soon we will find out just how “ready to roll” Loadholt is and, despite all of the positive signs of late, one setback that keeps him away from practice could prematurely end his career with the team that drafted him.

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Projecting the Vikings' Final 53-Man Roster
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

The 2016 season inched forward a bit when the Vikings opened their OTA offseason workouts. With that came plenty of early optimism about the Vikings’ talented roster. Teddy is ready to throw for 10,000 yards. Adrian Peterson is in the best shape of his life. 2015 top pick Trae Waynes is thriving and Aaron Boone looks great in purple.

If you listen closely, you can hear the faintest of claims that the Vikings are a true Super Bowl contender.

It is too early to say most of these things, but when you start to stack Minnesota’s roster, you can see why the hype exists. I struggled with my first attempt to pencil in a final 53-man roster, mostly because there will be talented players who will inevitably be cut. The front office won’t have an easy task on their hands, but I’d take a loaded roster over a barren one any day of the week.

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