Loadholt was expected to compete for the starting spot at right tackle, although free-agent signee Andre Smith appeared to be overtaking the lead in that competition.
After missing the last 21 regular-season games – the entire 2015 season and final part of the 2014 season – because of injury, Loadholt’s base salary was reduced from $5.4 million to $2 million this year, the final year of his contract.
“It was a little weird putting the helmet and stuff back on again, getting back into cleats and stuffs, but it’s definitely something I’m embracing and happy to be doing it again,” Loadholt said about returning to the practice field in May during organized team activities.
“I feel like I’m moving pretty well. I’ve got some things I’ve got to get better at, obviously. But I’m working hard to get better at those things and be ready to roll.”
Loadholt began OTAs as the starter but Smith got more work with the first-team offense as the offseason practices advanced. T.J. Clemmings, who started for Loadholt last year, likely will get more time at right tackle now after working at left and right tackle during offseason practices.
Loadholt called his injury issues last year “extremely frustrating” but said he was ready to come back and compete for the starting job.
However, he knew the competition was going to be stiff with Smith, a former first-round pick of the Cincinnati Bengals, signing with the Vikings.
“He’s a good player. He’s been around. I’ve been knowing him since we’ve been in the league together,” Loadholt said of Smith. “That’s what the NFL is all about – you’ve got to compete every year for your job so it will be fun.”
Loadholt, a second-round pick of the Vikings in 2009, had started all 92 regular-season and playoff games he had played.