Closing in on the top of our run down, the man at #2…
Big Phil Loadholt used to be known for two things: being big, and being prone to false starts.
Somewhere along the line Loadholt cleaned up the concentration issues that led to the procedure penalties. He also committed himself to conditioning in a major way. The result? Phil Loadholt developed from a marginal offensive tackle into arguably one of the top 5 men at his position in the entire league.
The one-time false start machine is now a stalwart, an anchor, a run-blocking machine.
Okay so he still occasionally struggles with the better speed rushers in the league, but that’s really the only weakness left in his game. As a run blocker he’s a road-grader. He and Brandon Fusco have become one of the strongest right sides in all the NFL.
A player we once mocked for his lapses in discipline, for being a big, dopey offensive tackle who couldn’t move his feet, has now become such an important player that when he had to be pulled from the last preseason game with an injury it inspired widespread panic.
Loadholt has become an indispensable part of the Vikings’ plan. He’s arguably the best player on arguably one of the best offensive lines in the NFL. It took him a little while to get there, but he got there.