Notebook: Loadholt ‘excited' for the start

Rookie right tackle Phil Loadholt will be the Vikings' starter in his first NFL game. See how he described his emotions to Viking Update and where he has improved. Plus, reaction on Cleveland's massive nose tackle Shaun Rogers and an unusual move by the Detroit Lions.

Rookie Phil Loadholt is a quiet man off the field. Big, but quiet.

But when Loadholt gets on the field, Vikings coach Brad Childress had some colorful language to describe a nasty attitude he believed Loadholt to have shortly after drafting him in the second round. More than four months after that draft, the 6-foot-8, 343-pound Loadholt will finally have a chance to put his offseason work into regular-season action.

"More excitement than nervous," Loadholt said this week when asked about his feelings entering his first regular-season game. "I feel that I've been prepared well all through training camp and everything for anything that gets thrown at me, so just more excitement than nervousness."

Loadholt says there already was a different energy present on Monday when the Vikings met to practice for the first time this season as a 53-man roster.

"Different energy in here. Different energy at practice. Everybody cranks it up a little bit from the preseason, so I'm ready for it," he said.

Loadholt will have to be ready for the 3-4 defensive scheme the Browns present, but, he believes he's seen enough of that in the preseason to be prepared. In fact, the Vikings may have faced more 3-4 looks in the preseason than 4-3. The latter puts the defensive ends in different alignments on the field and usually features smaller ends, whereas a 3-4 defense relies on bigger defensive ends to hold the line of scrimmage and blitzing linebackers to cause havoc.

"We had a chance to go against (that) in the preseason a little bit and coaches do a good job preparing us all week for it so I feel good about it," said Loadholt, who will be making his first NFL start along with center John Sullivan.

Sullivan is in his second NFL season, but he didn't take an offensive snap last year during the regular season. Now it will be Sullivan's responsibility to make the right calls for the offensive line.

Loadholt says he has become more comfortable with the overall offensive scheme throughout the preseason.

"It's been developing, just as much as any other rookie. New scheme. New level. When I came in, I felt like I was ready, but you can always get better and be more prepared for it," he said.

"… I know it's going to be real exciting. I don't really know what to expect, but that's part of it all. It's going to be real exciting for me."


The Vikings will have their Pro Bowl defensive duo of Pat Williams and Kevin Williams available for Sunday's game after the NFL announced the players that were suspended for testing positive for bumetanide last year would not have to serve their suspensions this weekend. The Williamses have been appealing their suspensions and the court hasn't yet made its ruling on the latest chapter of this ongoing story.

The Browns have even more uncertainty at nose tackle, at least for this game. Shaun Rogers, listed at 6-foot-4 and 350 pounds, returned to practice on Monday, but Cleveland coach Eric Mangini wouldn't reveal the likelihood that Rogers will play in the season opener.

"He's an outstanding player. He has very good strength against the run. He has very good awareness of blocking schemes," Mangini said. "He has a high motor when he plays. That's sometimes tough to do when you're a bigger guy, to go play in and play out at a high level. You're carrying a little bit more luggage than some of the little guys. I think he's also a very effective pass rusher. He has a lot of great traits."

Teams are required to issue injury reports on Wednesday, so more information on Rogers' status will be forthcoming then.


The Detroit Lions took the unusual step of having former Vikings quarterback Daunte Culpepper issue a statement in support of the Lions' decision to start rookie Matthew Stafford over Culpepper. The two had been in competition for the starting role this offseason.

"Now that the debate is over and the decision has been made regarding the starting quarterback in Detroit, I would like to make the following statement today so that tomorrow I can put all of my energy into helping our team prepare for our opponent," Culpepper wrote in his statement released by the team.

"The reason I agreed to restructure my contract in order to stay in Detroit was because I knew that I would have a chance to have a full off-season for the first time in over three years. I also knew that I would have an opportunity to finally compete against whoever the Lions brought in whether via free agency, trade or the draft. When the Lions selected Matthew Stafford first overall I was excited. My position is that if you want to be the best you have to beat the best. Coach Schwartz gave me a fair opportunity to compete for the starting job and now the decision has been made that Matt is the best quarterback in Detroit. I support the decision and I am ready to settle into my role. Matt is a great guy and a talented young quarterback. I am confident that he will lead this team to plenty of victories in Detroit for a long time to come. I look forward to helping Matt in that mission in any way that I can this year. My role as his back-up is not to be seen unless needed and not to be heard from unless required. The Lions organization has treated me with respect and class and they can expect the same from me."


During a chat on, commissioner Roger Goodell was asked if he had the ability to dismiss the "StarCaps" pursuit against Pat Williams and Kevin Williams and, "if so, why are you still pursuing?"

"This is a legal matter to protect the integrity of our collectively bargained drug program," Goodell responded. "It has been held as the highest standard for drug programs in professional sports and we don't feel it should be compromised. We are expecting a decision from the appellate court any day."

The NFL confirmed later that no action would be taken for this weekend's games while both sides wait for a ruling from a three-judge panel.


  • Detroit wasn't the only team interested in former Vikings CB Marcus McCauley, who was waived on Saturday. Jacksonvile and Tampa Bay also put in claims on him, according to a league source.

  • Former Vikings CB Marcus Walker, also waived in the final roster cutdown, was signed to the Carolina practice squad. Walker showed some signs last year on the practice squad, but he didn't look as good this year in training camp or in the preseason.

    Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.

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