Minnesota Vikings starting right tackle Phil Loadholt tore his Achilles tendon at the start of Saturday’s game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It was an injury that required surgery, which he had on Tuesday, and will force him to sit out during the entirety of the 2015 season.
Loadholt was forced to sit out the final four games of the 2014 season because of a torn pectoral muscle, but he is not looking to sit around and dwell on this latest setback. He wants to remain around his teammates and continue to help any way he can.
“He was good. He told me he doesn’t just not want to be around the guys, not be around the facility,” said Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer. “He wants to help any way he can and he was obviously devastated when it happened, but I think he’s starting to understand that now he’s got to get back. I told him he’ll be one of many guys that have had Achilles that have come back that I’ve had before, so we expect him to have a good recovery.”
Loadholt is a leader both on the field and in the locker room and all the players have an immense amount of respect for him. That respect was evident during the team’s walk-through on Thursday when Loadholt showed up toward the end and numerous players came over to greet him with handshakes and well-wishes.
“It was definitely good to see big Phil back around the facility,” said quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. “He’s going to be missed a lot this year and his presence is felt. The minute he arrived here at the walk-through everyone sprinted off the field, all heads were turned looking at him. It just says a lot about him as a person and as a teammate.”
Loadholt arrived with a scooter to keep weight of his lower left leg after having surgery to repair his torn Achilles earlier this week.
There are a lot of moving pieces along the offensive line this offseason and being forced to replace Loadholt with rookie T.J. Clemmings is another one. But something that might help the process develop more smoothly is the presence of Loadholt at the team facilities.
Since he wants to be around his team helping them out, he likely will be working with Clemmings, teaching him the ins and outs of being an NFL right tackle. Almost becoming another assistant offensive line coach.
“He probably does,” Zimmer said when asked is Loadholt has some coaching blood in him. “He’s a smart guy and he loves to be around the guys and loves to help.”
If he performs well, Clemmings will likely be the future replacement for Loadholt, an interesting dynamic to keep an eye on. But Loadholt’s likely not too worried about that right now. Instead, he wants to make the best of a bad situation and help out anyway he can.