MANKATO, Minn. — You couldn’t blame Phil Loadholt if he is carrying around a bit of extra confidence these days. The Vikings’ second-round pick in last April’s draft, Loadholt was expected to compete with Ryan Cook for the starting job at right tackle in training camp.
At least that’s how the Vikings sold it. But two weeks into camp, the former Oklahoma star has taken the overwhelming majority of snaps with the first team, and it’s clear the job is his to lose. Loadholt, to his credit, puts little stock in this and clearly isn’t getting cocky. "I know right now that it means absolutely nothing,” he said. "We’ve got a long time to go before the actual first game of the year. Even though the preseason game is right around the corner, it means absolutely nothing until I get in there and actually prove (myself).” Loadholt has been trying to do that since the Vikings opened training camp. A mammoth man at 6-8 and 343 pounds, he knows his stature alone won’t guarantee success. That’s why he takes film study so seriously. "Every day is a learning day for him, but he doesn’t make the same mistake twice,” offensive line coach Pat Morris said. Said Loadholt: "I maybe write down one or two things that I did last practice that I’m not going to do this time. I might do something else (wrong), but I’m not going to do that. So just trying to correct things as much as I possibly can.” The Vikings were thrilled to get Loadholt with the 54th pick in the draft; many thought they would target a tackle in the first round. Cook, who is working at guard, center and tackle, struggled as the starter last season and at one point was replaced by Artis Hicks. Loadholt spent two seasons at OU after transferring from Garden City (Kansas) Community College. He started 27 games for the Sooners, who went 23-5 and won consecutive Big 12 titles. He gave up only two sacks and one quarterback pressure on 438 pass plays last season. That came with Loadholt playing left tackle. Most NFL scouts agree Loadholt is best suited to play the right side. Assuming he is the starter, the Vikings will have two of the biggest tackles in the league.