Sunday notebook: Loadholt making the switch

Tackle Phil Loadholt comes to the Vikings with a lot of size, but not much recent experience at right tackle. The Vikings talked about that transition. Plus, Brad Childress talked about a couple of tryout players who have familiar names, if not NFL experience.

Vikings second-round pick Phil Loadholt impressed first-time observers with his massive frame. At 6-foot-8 and 340 pounds, he's hard to miss.

That size even gave Brad Childress an opening for humor when asked if he was able to see anything from Loadholt after the first practice at rookie minicamp.

"Yeah, we were able to see him. You can't miss him," Childress said. "… Yeah, he is a big guy. Great reach, athletic, got good feet. With his reach, that length, it's hard to get away from that guy. Then he is massive … that is a massive human being."

After the Vikings drafted Loadholt, Childress referenced an NFL axiom that "mass kicks ass."

Loadholt is a favorite to challenge Ryan Cook for the starting job at right tackle, but in his two seasons at Oklahoma, Loadholt was used as a left tackle. The difference between the left and right tackles is usually their foot quickness. Left tackles are most often taking on the speed-rushing defensive ends.

Rick Spielman, Vikings vice president of player of personnel, said Loadholt has decent feet, but Bryant McKinnie will remain at left tackle.

"I just think (Loadholt is) such a massive human being and he does have good feet, don't get me wrong because Bryant McKinnie has unique feet for his size," Spielman said. "This kid has good feet and he held up in his conference, which is a pretty good conference at left side. He played left side for two years, so this guy does have the ability to go to the left side, but he's probably not foot quickness-wise as good as Bryant McKinnie but every bit everything else that you get in Bryant from a football standpoint. But now you got another giant on the right side."

The Vikings made Loadholt one of their allotted 30 predraft visitors to Winter Park and Loadholt said before and after the draft that he wanted to come to Minnesota. He acknowledged in a diary entry for the National Football Post that the team wanted him to work on his balance.

"They had a need for a right tackle, and they talked to me about the things I needed to work on, like learning how to play with better leverage," he wrote.

Spielman said that even if opposing college players got underneath Loadholt's pads and gained leverage, his size prevented them from doing too much damage.

"If they did, they weren't moving him very far. And, for a tall guy, he plays with (knee) bend," Spielman said. "That's the one main thing that sticks out, and when you go through all our Olympic numbers and flexibility numbers and you twist ‘em and turn ‘em and do everything, he does play with bend for a big guy."

While Loadholt is expected to win the job at right tackle, Childress said it won't just be given to him.

"I see it as a good competition. It's just a matter of how fast he gets himself up to speed and if he distinguishes himself," he said.

THE OTHER FITZGERALD

The Vikings haven't been able to pry star receiver Larry Fitzgerald from the Arizona Cardinals. Fans have been advocating that move for years, but Fitzgerald signed a lucrative contract extension last year and isn't going anywhere.

The Vikings did bring in Fitzgerald's younger brother, Marcus, as part of a group of about 30 rookie players on a tryout basis.

"He just wanted a chance to have a chance. I think he came in good shape. He's giving a decent accounting of himself here," Childress said. "He has a mind for the game. You can see the wheels are turning when we meet in there offensively. We'll just see if he can distinguish himself out here against the competition. But he just asked for an opportunity. There's nothing wrong with that. That's what this weekend is all about for us and these 53 guys that are here."

NO EXPERIENCE NECESSARY

The team is giving another well-known local name an opportunity as well. However, Cole Konrad doesn't exactly have a football pedigree. Konrad is a former national champion wrestler for the Minnesota Gophers.

Former Gophers wrestler Brock Lesnar attempted a similar entry into the NFL five years ago under the Mike Tice regime. Lesnar was attempting to make it as a defensive tackle, but he was released during the preseason.

Konrad is working at offensive guard this weekend.

"I saw him get up on the draw today. We go around in that meeting (Thursday) night and there really are some interesting personalities here," Childress said. "(We ask them to) stand up and say something interesting about yourself and where you are from, and when a guy stands up and says, ‘Hey, I'm Cole Konrad and I didn't play college football,' everybody kind of looks and says, ‘Who is this guy?' But he is a pretty tough hombre. He is getting up to speed pretty quickly here."

The Vikings conclude their rookie minicamp Sunday after four practices.


Viking Update Top Stories