EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Phil Loadholt might be tough to challenge as the Vikings biggest supporter this past season.
The 6-foot-8, 340-plus pound right tackle suffered a torn Achilles on his second snap of the preseason and was relegated to the sideline. He watched, supported and cheered for teammates as the Vikings went 11-5 to claim their first NFC North title since Loadholt's rookie season of 2009.
View some of the best images of the offensive linemen from 2015.
"It was great to see them have such a great year," Loadholt said Monday night. "I obviously wish they were still playing, but it was great to see the guys do what they did. I mean, it's hard to watch the games if you're not playing, but it made it a little better, the fact that they're winning."
Loadholt participated in an event hosted by the Vikings to begin the organization's "Celebrate Perseverance" series of content that recognizes Black History Month, the contributions and sacrifices made by African Americans.
Loadholt joined Vikings Hall of Famers Alan Page and Carl Eller, Vikings Chief Operating Officer Kevin Warren, Vikings Director of Food Service Geji McKinney-Banks, author Jonathan Odell and host Pete Rhodes at the Winter Park fieldhouse and spoke to groups of young people from MAD DADS of Minneapolis, the Boys and Girls Club of South Minneapolis, Agape Baptist Church and the African American Registry.
After speaking to the young people, Loadholt told the Star Tribune's Matt Vensel and ESPN.com's Ben Goessling that his recovery and rehabilitation is "right on track."
"I'm running now, so that was the last big milestone that just happened," Loadholt said.
The former second-round pick said he crossed that threshold last week. He said even though the timing of the injury cost him all of 2015, the other aspect is being better prepared for this offseason.
"My season started now for me. I'm moving around and getting back in shape," Loadholt said. "I feel like my season has started now, which is good because I'm not having to rehab and barely able to walk and stuff like that.
"Once I get healthy, I'll be ready to play ball, I can guarantee that much," Loadholt added.