by Brad Crainer
Two plays into the Vikings’ preseason game against the Buccaneers on August 15, right tackle, and staple of the Vikings’ offensive line, Phil Loadholt’s season came to an abrupt end with a torn achilles. This did two things:
- Opened the door for fourth round pick T.J. Clemmings to claim a starting role in the Vikings offense, and
- Opened up a gaping hole in the offensive line that could result in some serious repercussions for the norsemen.
In 2014, the Vikings ranked 7th worst in QB Hits allowed with 86. They also ranked 5th worst in both Sacks and Tackles for Loss with 53 and 74, respectively. The loss of a starting RT who has been on the team for 6 years and was named 1st Team All-NFL by Pro Football Focus in 2013, is obviously going to hurt.
Expect the loss of Loadholt to take its toll on the Vikings and result in a more simplistic playbook to help ease the rookie Clemmings into the fold. Adrian Peterson should not have much trouble making up for the loss of the right tackle on his end, but young QB Teddy Bridgewater may find that he has less time than he’d like to locate and find his receivers.
Loadholt’s absence could mean an increase in carries for AP and crew and less emphasis being placed on Bridgewater’s dropping back. When in passing situations, I expect that the early open option would be preferred and that Bridgewater is going to be less likely to take shots deep down the field. It will be interesting to see how the Loadholt loss affects the actual game plan going into Week 1, but I think it’s safe to say that the Vikings are going to be “OK” overall.
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