Blogs

Remember To Vote For The Samsung Unsung Hero Of The Game

Posted by Mike Wobschall on November 23, 2009 – 6:37 am

Remember to visit the vikings.com home page and vote for the Samsung Unsung Hero of the Game. This is a new bit on the website and it’s one that fans largely control. The winner of the poll, which closes on Wednesday, will be interviewed and the video will be posted on vikings.com.

Last week the Samsung Unsung Hero of the Game was TE Jeff Dugan. Click here to see his interview.

This week’s choices for the Samsung Unsung Hero of the Game are CB Asher Allen, LB Heath Farwell, T Phil Loadholt and S Jamarca Sanford.

Allen recorded his 1st career INT in yesterday’s win and also had a tackle. Farwell had 2 special teams tackles and recovered a fumble on a Seattle kick return. Loadholt was part of an offensive line that paved the way for the Vikings to gain 160 rushing yards and pickup 271 total passing yards. And Sanford recorded 1 special teams tackle and forced the fumble that Farwell recovered.


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Vikings Community Tuesday

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 20, 2009 – 9:13 am

A few Vikings players, along with Viktor the Vikings, will spend their day off today by helping the Vikings organization and the Midwest Dairy Council kickoff the 2009-10 season of their school program “Eat Right, Get Movin’ With Viktor.”

The event will take place today from 1:00 to 1:45 p.m. in Lakeville

P Chris Kluwe, S Tyrell Johnson and T Phil Loadholt, along with Viktor, will be present at the program and will lead students in several football-related exercises.

The “Eat Right, Get Movin’ With Viktor” program is an interactive assembly that helps teach children about the importance of eating healthy and staying physically active every single day.  While stressing these 2 points, the program draws on messages from the NFL and National Dairy Council’s Fuel Up to Play 60 initiative.

“The entire Minnesota Vikings organization is thrilled to continually partner with the Midwest Dairy Council to teach children the importance of eating healthy and staying physically active,” said Steve LaCroix, VP of Sales and Marketing/Chief Marketing Officer for the Minnesota Vikings.  “Viktor the Viking mascot, radio broadcaster Paul Allen, Vikings cheerleaders, and players like Chad Greenway have all played an active role in the Eat Right, Get Movin’ with Viktor school assembly program, and our entire team will continue to promote health and nutrition throughout Minnesota schools.”

The Eat Right, Get Movin’ With Viktor program has already reached more than 3,000 students and will make it to more than 80 Minnesota schools in the coming months.

 “While helping kids across the State of Minnesota, this program will fulfill the local Wellness Policy that was mandated for all school districts in the 2004 Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act, Eat Right, Get Movin’ With Viktor is geared to help schools address these policies and the issue of children’s health and nutrition,” said Mike Kruger, CEO/Executive Vice President, Midwest Dairy Association and Council.
Midwest Dairy Council is the nutrition education division of Midwest Dairy Association. The Council’s mission is to promote a healthy diet through nutrition education and the use of dairy products to consumers, health professionals and teachers. Midwest Dairy Council is funded by check-off dollars from dairy producers in our local region. For more information, visit www.midwestdairy.com.


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Hicks’ Position Flexibility Helped Vikings On Sunday

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 13, 2009 – 9:10 am

Rookie RT Phil Loadholt missed Sunday’s game against the Rams because of an ankle injury but he told the Star Tribune that he’s confident he’ll be able to give the ankle a go during practice on Wednesday.

Starting in Loadholt’s place on Sunday was veteran swingman Artis Hicks. Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress said Hicks did a “nice job,” especially for not having practiced in the RT spot for much of the week.

“With only having Friday as a full practice at the right tackle position,” Childress said, “I thought he did a nice job for being on that side. He is a natural left sided guy, left handed guy. I thought he did a nice job for lining up there.”

Childress dealt for Hicks after he took the job in Minnesota because the 2 were familiar with each from their time in Philadelphia together and because of Hicks’ tremendous position flexibility. Hicks can play 4 positions along the line.

“About the only thing he is not studying is the center position because Ryan Cook is a guy that we would typically have up and slide into that spot (center),” Childress explained. “Artis has got to have a feel for a right-hand and left-hand. He’s got to know the personnel along the front, right-handed and left-handed. He has to know how we are blocking plays right-handed and left-handed.”


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Avoiding The “Trap” Game

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 10, 2009 – 11:56 am

A team is often described as entering a “trap” game when they face an underdog opponent immediately after a big win and just before a big game. Coming off a win over division rival Green Bay last Monday night and with games against AFC North opponents Baltimore and Pittsburgh in the immediate future, this weekend’s game against the 0-4 St. Louis Rams fits the “trap game” description.

But from what I’ve seen and heard around Winter Park this week, the Vikings will not be caught in the trap. Whether that means they’ll win remains to be seen, but a poor performance or loss on the road in St. Louis this week will not be the product of the Vikings overlooking their opponent.

The Vikings have several reasons, in fact, to not only avoid overlooking their opponent, but to be concerned about tricky subplots in this matchup. Here are a few…

– The Rams coaching staff will know how to prepare the team to face the Vikings. St. Louis Head Coach Steve Spagnuolo is good friends with both Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress and assistant head coach/defensive coordinator. Spagnuolo coached with both Childress and Frazier in Philadelphia (at different times). Additionally, 2 of Spagnuolo’s assistants in St. Louis were members of Childress’ original staff in Minnesota. LBs coach Paul Ferraro was the Vikings special teams coordinator from 2006-2008 and DL coach Brendan Daly was the assistant DL coach in Minnesota during that same time period.

– The Rams are averaging just 6.0 points per game, but don’t think that Frazier is taking this offensive unit lightly. He explained during his press conference on Thursday that the Rams have moved the ball well against both the San Francisco 49ers and Green Bay Packers, but that self-induced mistakes (turnovers and penalties) have neutralized offensive momentum. Frazier went on to explain that the mistakes St. Louis has made are correctable, and that if those corrections are made, the Rams are capable of playing a quality and beating anyone.

– Rams RB Steven Jackson ran up and down the field against this Vikings defense back in Week 17 of the 2006 season. He carried the ball 25 times for 142 yards and 3 TDs, and also added a TD reception. The Vikings will be focused on stopping Jackson, but the Rams won’t be afraid to challenge the Vikings defense with their top offensive threat.

– The Vikings had a pair of offensive linemen on the injury report this week in All-Pro G Steve Hutchinson and RT Phil Loadholt. Hutchinson will likely play, but back injuries are funny things and can flare up in an instant. Loadholt’s status is a bit more uncertain, but he was held out of practice on Friday, which isn’t a good sign.

– This game is on the road, and in 2 road games this season the Vikings have gotten off to slow starts.


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Edwards, Hutchinson Practice

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 8, 2009 – 3:29 pm

After sitting out of practice yesterday, Vikings DE Ray Edwards (hamstring) and All-Pro G Steve Hutchinson (back) both practiced on a limited basis today. This is good news for the Vikings considering both players are starters and also considering 5 other players appear on Thursday’s injury report, including RT Phil Loadholt (ankle).

During his weekly press conference today, Vikings offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said that all players go through aches and pains at this point in the season but that Hutchinson might be feeling it a little more than most at this point.

“Obviously we appreciate it; we’re never going to put anybody out there who is injured, but they’re going to have to play through some aches and pains,” Bevell said. “He’s doing that; he’s fighting through it. He’s a tough guy, he competes hard and he’s going to go as much as he can go. A lot of the guys are doing the same thing.”

Loadholt was not on yesterday’s report but appeared on it today and was noted as a limited participant. Also limited today were QB Brett Favre (foot/ankle/knee), LB Erin Henderson (calf) and CB Cedric Griffin (hand). WR Darius Reynaud (hamstring) did not participate in practice today.

There were a few changes to St. Louis’ injury report as well. On the negative side, WR Ruvell Martin (hamstring) was added to the report as a limited participant in practice. WR Keenan Burton (hamstring) and S Anthony Smith (achilles) went from limited to did not participate.

On the positive side, CB Ron Bartell (thigh) and S Craig Dahl (concussion) went from limited to full participants.

WR Donnie Avery (hamstring), QB Marc Bulger (right shoulder) and RT Jason Smith (ankle) remained  limited participants.


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Loadholt Receives Positive Reviews From Bevell

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 17, 2009 – 4:08 pm

Much attention was paid to Vikings 1st round pick Percy Harvin as he made his regular season NFL debut in Cleveland last weekend. Harvin had a profound impact on the game, hauling in a 6-yard TD reception and accumulating 157 all-purpose yards on 8 touches.

But there was another 1st day pick who had an impact on the game as well. Phil Loadholt, taken in the 2nd round last April, played in his 1st NFL regular season game and got the start at RT. Without sitting down next to a coach or scout in the film room, it appears Loadholt performed well, considering Adrian Peterson rushed for 180 yards and 3 scores and the Vikings offense scored 30 total points.

Vikings offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell indicated on Thursday while meeting with reporters that Loadholt indeed had a good first outing.

“He’s a rookie, under those circumstances – starting a game on the road, his first NFL start – I think he did a nice job,” Bevell said. “He competed in there; he’s a physical guy, he’s a giant man.”

Loadholt’s size, as Bevell referenced, gives him the potential to be a truly dominant lineman in the NFL. And the good news for the Vikings, according to Bevell, is that Loadholt doesn’t seem to be the type of player who will rely simply on his size to do the work. He’s willing to put in the extra effort on a play-to-play basis.

“What I really like about him is he finishes plays,” Bevell explained. “You watch some of those tapes [and] you can see him downfield trying to get that extra block. That’s what I like about him.”


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Final Notes on Vikings Victory

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 15, 2009 – 8:49 am

Before we move on to Week 2 and the Vikings-Lions matchup, here are a few final notes on the Vikings 34-20 victory over the Cleveland Browns on Sunday…

– The Vikings defense held Cleveland’s top 2 WRs – Braylon Edwards and Josh Cribbs – to a combined 3 receptions for 22 yards. A matchup with Detroit’s Calvin Johnson is on the horizon, so it was good to see the Vikings secondary playing well and the front 7 putting pressure on the QB.

– Adrian Peterson’s sensational 64-yard TD run put an exclamation point on Sunday’s victory. According to this article, Peterson rated his effort on that individual play as his best ever.

– The Vikings had 2 players along the offensive line make their first NFL regular season starts – RT Phil Loadholt and C John Sullivan – and Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress said they both played “particularly well.” Going up against 3-time Pro Bowler DT Shaun Rogers made Sullivan’s debut even more important for the Vikings on Sunday. Childress said he was pleased with the communication the young linemen had with coaches in between offensive series.

“I thought both of those young offensive linemen, they can come and tell you what they saw and then when you look at the pictures and you see the tape, it is what they saw,” Childress explained. “So there was great clarity (and) there was great communication in the offensive line.”

– Peterson stole the show with his 180-yard, 3-TD effort, but rookie WR Percy Harvin had a terrific debut, even catching a 6-yard TD pass from Brett Favre that essentially sealed the Vikings victory. All told when the game was over, Harvin’s impact was distinct – he had 8 touches for 157 yards and 1 TD.

“Well you know he had the one drop on the bubble (screen) which you would love to have back because he could have gotten in some clear air there,” Childress said. “But I think for what we asked him to do he handled it very well. Handled the return chores and was productive with it. Was in the right spot most of the time in the throw game, did have that one drop. He blocked extremely well down the field.”


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Loadholt Signs and Moving Day

Posted by Mike Wobschall on July 29, 2009 – 12:38 pm

Good news out of Winter Park today – Vikings 2nd round draft pick OT Phil Loadholt has signed his rookie contract and will report to training camp on time. The only draft choice who remains unsigned is WR Percy Harvin, and I don’t expect that he’ll miss any time during training camp because of his contract. I’m sure his agent and Vikings VP of Football Operations Rob Brzezinski are working hard to hammer out an agreement.

I am just about to pack up and head down to Mankato for a couple of weeks. I’ve been anxious to get to camp during this offseason and I’m even more excited for the season to finally roll around. The time has come to finish preparations for the 2009 season and set out to defend last year’s division championship.

While in Mankato for camp, I will have several entries on the blog per day, especially once practices begin on Friday. In addition to blog entries, we’ll also have headline stories, coverage of press conferences, exclusive video content from practices, and much more.

Also, don’t forget to submit your questions to me at wobschallm@vikings.nfl.net for our Monday Morning Mailbag feature. We’ll be bringing the mailbag with us to camp.


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Analyzing Position Battles – Right Tackle

Posted by Mike Wobschall on July 14, 2009 – 12:45 pm

It might be a slow time on the NFL calendar, but with training camp just over 2 weeks away we thought it’d be an appropriate time to identify and break down some position battles that will be decided this August in Mankato and in preseason games.

Today we’ll take a look at RT, where incumbent starter Ryan Cook will be challenged by 2009 2nd round draft choice Phil Loadholt.

Ryan Cook, who was also a 2nd round draft choice (2006), has been a serviceable player for the Vikings at RT the last couple of years. He’s started 30 of 32 games since 2007, but he just hasn’t established a consistent standard of play. He was even benched briefly last year after ineffective play and a penchant for drawing yellow flags.

Loadholt looked solid during minicamps and OTAs this spring and summer. At 6-8, 343 pounds, he has the size and strength to be a mauling run blocker, which is what’s typically asked of NFL RTs. But he also has a large wingspan and good pass protecting skills, which he honed while playing LT for the Oklahoma Sooners.

There are a couple of other angles to watch in this competition. As is the case in every training camp battle for every team, injuries could be a factor. If either player goes down to injury, or if another player along the line goes down to injury, this competition could be affected. One of Cook’s best qualities is that he has position flexibility, which means he can play multiple positions and thus is a valuable commodity to have in a league where half the battle is staying healthy.

The other issue is going to be Loadholt’s ability to A) adjust to playing on the right side (which I don’t see as a problem) and B) prove that he can pass protect at the NFL level. Admittedly, I am not the best at watching a lineman’s feet and making a determination as to whether those are “good feet” or “quick feet” or “slow feet.” The good news is we have coaches on the staff who are good at making that determination. So, if Loadholt is deemed to have either “good feet” or “quick feet,” then his chances of winning this position battle increase.

I don’t consider this position battle over before it starts. Cook has been here before and he knows the offense. Loadholt is playing on the right side and is still in the process of proving himself. But at this point, I give the edge to Loadholt.

Prediction: Watch for Loadholt to run with the 1st team early in camp, and perhaps not ever relinquish those duties.


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Vikings in the Community

Posted by Mike Wobschall on June 22, 2009 – 9:30 am

Even though OTAs have concluded and Sunday was Father’s Day, a couple of Vikings stayed busy this weekend by helping out the local community.

Rookie OT Phil Loadholt joined a large group of local boy scouts in the Winter Park field house on Friday to reward them for popcorn sales. The scouts were able to take part in football drills, with Loadholt and fellow rookie Ian Johnson guiding them.

Then on Sunday, Chad Greenway and his wife Jenni hosted their annual fun run/walk at Lake Nokomis. Teammates, Vikings Cheerleaders, Viktor the Viking and members of the Vikings Women’s Organization helped put on the 3rd annual Greenway’s Gridiron Gallop 5K fun run/walk.


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