Saturday, August 19, 2017

phil loadholt

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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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Western Michigan tackle Willie Beavers
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

The Minnesota Vikings continue to add offensive lineman to the roster, this time by drafting Western Michigan tackle Willie Beavers in the fourth round of the 2016 NFL Draft. Beavers joins the Vikings after starting 40 straight games at left tackle for the Broncos over his four-year career. The 2015 All-MAC First-Team selection spoke to Minnesota media following the announcement.

“I want to thank the Vikings for believing in me and believing in my potential,” he said. “It’s a surreal feeling right now and I’m just so happy right now, I can’t even explain it.”

Coming out of high school, Beavers originally committed to play defensive line at Illinois. His scholarship was rescinded after the school recruited too many players, and Beavers quickly signed to play with Western Michigan.

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Andre Smith Signs With Vikings
Ex-Bengals offensive tackle Andre Smith signs with the Minnesota Vikings.

Former Bengals offensive tackle Andre Smith tweeted this morning that he has signed a one-year deal with the Minnesota Vikings. Smith, who was also meeting with the Arizona Cardinals, said in his tweet that the contract is a one year deal.

The Vikings hosted Smith for a visit this past Sunday but were not able to come to an agreement during his stay, leaving many wondering whether or not a deal would get done. Head coach Mike Zimmer knows Smith well from his time in Cincinnati and this signing is another example of his desire to add players he’s already familiar with from his time with the Bengals.

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