It's hard to miss massive offensive tackle Phil Loadholt on the practice field because of his sheer size. But he is looking to make even a bigger impression on the coaching staff, as he has been given the chance to work with the first-team offensive line. Still, he won't declare himself atop the depth chart. Plus, Monday morning practice notes.
isn't counting his blessings just yet, but, if the first few days of training camp are any indication, the second-round rookie is being given every opportunity to win the starting right tackle job.
For an offensive line that has been among the best in the NFL over the last few years, right tackle has been a revolving door that has seen players come in and go out of the lineup.
Loadholt said that the experience he is gaining working with the first team has been valuable as he tries to solidify what has been a weak spot of the O-line.
"How can you not learn from guys like Bryant McKinnie
and Steve Hutchinson
?" Loadholt asked. "They've been helping me out a lot to make the transition to the pros and how to conduct myself on and off the field."
Loadholt said the Vikings were a team he and his agent targeted as a potential landing spot prior to the draft and that, following his predraft visit with the team, that it was an organization he wanted to play for.
While he was able to make an impression during the minicamps and OTAs, Loadholt said this is the time that he needs to step up and turn heads of the coaching staff.
"I'm not on the top of the depth chart yet," Loadholt said. "I'm just getting the first-team reps right now. What I need to do is take advantage of this opportunity to compete and make the most of it. If I can do that, everything else will work itself out."
MONDAY MORNING PRACTICE NOTES
Monday morning's practice was the first in which players wore full pads and they took advantage of it with several big hits being delivered throughout the morning session.
Once again, quarterback Tarvaris Jackson was absent from the practice field, leaving all the reps to Sage Rosenfels and John David Booty.
The opening of practice was cloudy and cool (that would change), prompting defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier to smile and say, "It's a great day for practice."
Early in practice, the team had Percy Harvin and Aundrae Allison handling all of the punt return duties.
Chris Kluwe was inconsistent early with his punts, drilling several but tossing in a few knuckleballs as well.
Much of the punting practice was designed at putting kicks near the sidelines.
Ryan Longwell was 5-for-5 kicking field goals in his limited kicking exposure Monday.
Head coach Brad Childress oversaw the defensive side of practice early on, but wasn't nearly as hands-on as he was Sunday with the offense, instead deferring to Leslie Frazier as the voice the players were hearing most.
E.J. Henderson celebrated his 29th birthday Monday, sweating off any excess pounds from the offseason.
It was clear who the young fans were most interested in seeing. As Adrian Peterson was completing a blocking drill, the sound of children's voices screaming his name was akin to the Jonas Brothers stepping out of a limo. A.D. acknowledged his young fans with a smile and a wave.
Peterson wasn't alone in the fan adulation department. An adult fan with a large placard intended to get Percy Harvin's attention was successful. The fan showed Harvin a large University of Florida tattoo and got Harvin to do the "Gator Chomp" for him.
For other adult fans, the Vikings cheerleaders were a welcome sight at camp.
It was an up-and-down practice for Harvin, who had a drop on a relatively easy pass that caught the eye of receivers coach George Stewart, but followed that up with a leaping catch that had the fans cheering loudly.
As the hitting became a little more intense, Peterson gave Benny Sapp a pretty solid stiff arm to the face, but it was more in fun than to crumple his defensive teammate.
The only injury of the morning practice was to Martail Bennett, who got his legs tangled with Otis Grigsby and grabbed at his left knee when he went to the ground. He was assisted from the field by the training staff but returned to practice after being on the sidelines for about a half hour.
The biggest ovation of the day came on a perfectly thrown bomb from Sage Rosenfels to Jaymar Johnson, whom Rosenfels hit in stride with a 50-yard bomb during 7-on-7 drills.
The biggest defensive play of the 7-on-7 drills was provided by Erin Henderson and rookie Asher Allen. Henderson tipped a Booty pass and Allen intercepted and returned the pick for what would have been a touchdown.
Visanthe Shiancoe was impressive once again in the morning practice, hauling in a deep pass with a leaping catch in traffic.
The first-team defense dominated the first-team offense in 11-on-11 drills. The team stuffed Peterson twice from the 2-yard line and, according to Jared Allen, he wants to look at the film to make sure Peterson scored on the third attempt from the 2-yard line. Peterson was credited with a score.
You don't treat an old guy the way Marcus McCauley did to veteran Jim Kleinsasser, the last holdover from the Vikings NFC Championship Game run in 2000. McCauley drilled Kleinsasser in the back as he caught a pass and followed that up two plays later with an interception to end another drive by the offense.
Move over David Tyree. Chester Taylor knows your tricks. Tyree gained fame in the Super Bowl by pulling in a pass he trapped against the top of his helmet. Taylor did the same when a screen pass zipped his way, holding the ball on top of his helmet before corralling it and making a solid gain.
There were a couple of huge hits before the end of practice. On one, linebacker Kenny Onatolu and running back Kahlil Bell hit helmet to helmet and, on another, rookie safety Jamarca Sanford leveled wide receiver Darius Reynaud after he had gained 12 yards on a reverse.
The crowd at the early practice was very strong, as both stands were filled by the time practice began, making it another practice session attended by more than 2,000 fans.