When Phil Loadholt first arrived in the NFL, there was one guy who was always something of a thorn in his side – teammate Ray Edwards. As a right tackle, Loadholt lined up opposite Edwards and the veteran let the rookie know he wasn't at Oklahoma anymore.
Edwards made Loadholt earn his stripes and never let up on him. As the two meet as opponents for the first time Sunday as Loadholt and the Vikings face off with Edwards and the Falcons at the Georgia Dome, Loadholt said those trench wars in the summer heat of Mankato haven't been forgotten.
"My rookie year I came in and he was the end on my side," Loadholt said. "We battled all camp the first and second year. We had some good battles."
This week, Loadholt said that film study on Edwards, while valuable, was largely unnecessary. He has played five times against the Packers, Lions and Bears, but he lined up opposite Edwards hundreds if not thousands of times in preparation for those games and the two know each other intimately and what the other's strengths and weaknesses are.
"We practiced against each other every day for the past two years," Loadholt said. "I think it's definitely an advantage to the point where I've seen him day in and day out my first couple of years in this league."
Because of that innate familiarity, Loadholt says he doesn't expect Edwards to change things up when they go after each other with bad intentions for the first time Sunday. He's confident in his game and Edwards has confidence in his abilities. Loadholt said he expects to see the same things he saw in practice, just ratcheted up a notch.
"For the most part, I think he's going do what he does," Loadholt said. "He's had his successful year down there to this point, so I don't know if he's going to change anything. It's just going to be a good battle."
While opponents on Sunday, the friendship and mutual respect Edwards and Loadholt gained for those thousands of practice snaps in which they butted heads still lingers. When asked to assess his former teammate, Loadholt's scouting report was only slightly less than glowing.
"He's a powerful guy," Loadholt said. "He has a good get-off off the ball, plays the run well and obviously has good size."
Anyone who knows Edwards knows that, on and off the field, he has a sharp tongue and has never been above trash talking. He did it as a backup. He did it as a starter. Loadholt expects he will do it Sunday.
"We always did a little trash talking, so I don't expect that to stop," the Vikings tackle said.
The familiarity Edwards and Loadholt have with each other will be an advantage in term of game preparation, but, once the clock starts winding, Loadholt said he doesn't believe either one of them will have an inherent advantage. It will be a battle for 60 minutes that will test both of them and their prior knowledge will only go so far.
"I guess it will cross out," Loadholt said. "He knows how I play and I know how he plays. It's just going to be a battle from that standpoint. I won't say it's an advantage for either one. It probably just crosses out at the end of the day."
What he does expect, however, is that Edwards is going to bring his best effort the entire time he's on the field. The only thing standing between Edwards and a big game is Loadholt and he knows that his job will be to keep Edwards quiet, which a lot of right tackles have found difficult to do.
"I think any time in this league that you're playing against your old team, you definitely want to ‘show out,' as we say," Loadholt said. "That's just what that is. It's the same feeling for me being that he was here. We were always passing words to each other, so it's going to be a good, fun battle."
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
Loadholt ready to renew battle with Edwards
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