Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman
I wanted to introduce, and I’m sure everyone knows, Phil Loadholt, who’s our Nunn-Wooten Internship Candidate this year. What that’s about is trying to bring in former minority players that are interested in the personnel side. We vet through that very thoroughly and not only when Phil was here as a football player, but what he was for this football team as a leader. His expression and interest in getting exposure to this side of the business, he’ll tell you what he’s doing down there at Central Florida, but he’s been in contact with Les Pico and talked to a lot of our scouts. Every year we try to bring in two [interns], especially if they’re former players here, to come in and get exposure to the front office side of the business. A couple weeks from now the other one, if it works out with his schedule, but Jasper Brinkley will be in through the same program as well. So I’m going to bring Phil up to the mic, I know how much he loved talking to you guys when he played, the personality will just be glowing as he gets up here. But the first test of this program is to get in front of the media and do what I have to do and to see how much retention he’s had as he went to school this week to learn everything.
Former Vikings Tackle and Current Scouting Intern Phil Loadholt
First of all, I just to say thank you to the Vikings, Rick Spielman and Les Pico for giving me this opportunity. To come back to Minnesota is great, see this great, wonderful facility that is built here by the Wilfs. The Vikings do a great job of taking care of their alumni players, and it’s been a great experience.
Q: What do they have you doing at UCF?
A: Last year was my first year, this will be my second year working with the offensive line. Josh Huepel, the head coach, brought me down there, working with Glen Elarbee, offensive line coach, and been learning a lot doing that as well. It’s been fun.
Q: What have you been doing in your stint here with the Vikings?
A: Basically I’ve been learning the year routine of an area scout, a pro scout. Talked to Rob Brzezinski yesterday and learned about some salary cap things. Just really getting a snapshot of the entire personnel side and what all of these guys do on a daily basis, yearly basis, offseason, in season. It’s been a great experience and I’ve learned a lot of things that I didn’t know where going on. It’s been really good for me.
Q: What has it been like just seeing some old teammates that you used to play with?
A: It’s been great. These guys have been working hard, you can tell. A lot of young guys that are now veterans from when I was here. It’s a really good locker room, and it’s good to see all the guys that I knew and played with, and even some of the new guys, it’s been good to meet them. It’s been really good.
Q: Have you done a lot of film work as part of your internship program?
A: I have. I’ve been cranking away at film daily after practice, before practice, just watching stuff and learning how they grade players and do things differently. So, (I’ve) been doing a lot of film work.
Q:How different is that type of view, seeing how they do it compared to watching film as a player?
A: There is a difference because when I was watching it as a player, I know I was getting ready to go against a guy on Sunday. That was more of a technique and things like that. Here, I’m looking at different body types and the way people fit in schemes and just the way that they can help this team. It’s a lot different from that aspect as far as not breaking down technique of a guy and what I’m expecting to see on Sunday. I’m looking at the big picture now, how somebody can fit into a team and help.
Q: Has Brett Jones had a chance to tell you that he was a fan of yours?
A: Yeah, I did. I got a chance to meet with him and talk to him. Great kid, been doing a good job.
Q: How flattered were you that he had your jersey when you were a rookie?
A: That was pretty cool. It made me feel a little old, but it was pretty cool, definitely.
Q: Do you have an idea for the next phase of your career yet?
A: I don’t. I’m keeping all my options open right now. Like I said, I’m really enjoying what I’m doing down there at Central Florida. That’s one of the reasons these programs are so great. It gives me the opportunity to get a snapshot of the personnel side and figure out things and see which way I want to do it. I’m not in a rush. I’m really enjoying this too as well, so just keeping all my options open right now.
Q: Did you always envision staying around football after your playing days?
A: Yeah, I’m a football guy. I love football. That’s one thing I’ve always loved and will always love, so definitely want to be around the game in some form or fashion.
Q: In a league where there’s kind of a lack of minority head coaches and top personnel and executives, how important is the program to give people an opportunity like this to get in front of teams?
A: I think it’s very important. It gives guys like me experience that I probably wouldn’t be able to get without it. Everybody here has been great. Everybody here has been like an open book. There’s been no secrets or anything. They’re really telling me everything from what they’re doing daily and how things work and everything so it’s been great.
Q: When Aviante Collins got hurt yesterday, why weren’t you doing pass-pro work?
A: I couldn’t, couldn’t do it
Vikings Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Advisor Gary Kubiak
Q: What have been your impressions since the pads came on for the offense?
A: Our work has been good. Just try to stay focused on working each day. Not get too high when things are good, not get too low when you have a rough period or something. We’re just trying to stay focused on that, but the players have been really good, coaches have been working really hard, got a long way to go but we’ll end up putting in the work to get there.
Q: What do you think of Alexander Mattison?
A: The first thing that strikes me is that Matt (Alexander Mattison) handles himself like a vet. He’s a very mature kid, he’s very fortunate that he’s watching the guy ahead of him, he’s watching every day, helps him become a pro fairly quickly. Obviously, we’re asking a lot of him and so far, he’s made a lot of progress.
Q: We’ve heard Mike Zimmer say this system can help the offensive line make their job a little easier, how have you seen them take to it?
A: Well, we’re trying to tie everything together in what we do. Running the ball and throwing the ball, play pass. It’s hard to make big plays in this league so you’re trying to get those two tied together so you can get the ball down the field. Rick (Dennison) does a great job of teaching; he and Andrew have done a good job. Our group of offensive linemen, all guys that work very hard. We’ve got a young center we’re asking a lot of. A lot of things going on right there but, guys getting on the same page trying to make sure they give us some holes to run in and a chance to throw the ball.
Q: Your time working with Rick Dennison, what makes him a good teacher of the line?
A: He’s an engineer by trade. The thing I’m the most impressed with, with Rick (Dennison), obviously I’ve coached with him and played with him for over 30 years, is that he knows how to reach each player. Any good coach, you go in your room, you got numerous amount of players that can’t all be taught the same way. It’s not one way in the room, you got to be able to reach each player. He does a great job of breaking things down, finding out how a guy responds best, and ultimately putting a unit together that is unselfish working their tail off.
Q: How does a fullback fit into your system?
A: It’s very important. A guy like C.J. (Ham) and this young kid (Khari Blasingame), I call him ‘B Game’, I know what his last name is but that’s my nickname for him. It gives us a chance to be flexible, we can run a two-back offense, a one-back offense with the same personnel on the field. Both our fullbacks catch the ball very well. C.J. gives us a chance to do some things on third down, too, because he’s got a chance to help you catch the ball and protecting the quarterback. Two good guys to work with, normally you usually only have one, we have two good ones to work with this camp.
Q: How do you think you can use the versatility and different skill sets in the tight end room?
A: It’s going to be interesting because it’s a really good group. I think Rudy (Kyle Rudolph) has had an excellent training camp, obviously, this is my first time to be around him. Irv (Smith Jr.) is extremely talented, he’s swimming right now but we’ll catch him up. Obviously, you all see how he can stretch the field. And then you got Conk (Tyler Conklin), (Cole) Hikutini and this young kid from Marian (Brandon Dillon) who’s played really good. We’re going to have a chance to have that be a strength of our football team, and the more versatile those guys are, gives us a chance to move people around defensively when we’re on the field.
Q: Coach Mike Zimmer singled out Tyler Conklin the other day, how is he looking?
A: Second-year player, right. Usually, guys make their biggest jump from year one to two if they’re going to be a really good pro and play awhile, you see that with him. A good thing with Conk (Tyler Conklin), a lot of tight ends are either physical tight ends or receiving tight ends. He’s one of the few guys who looks like he has a chance to do both, so we will just stay patient with him and keep working, but he’s having a good camp.
Q: Coach Mike Zimmer talked about Kyle Rudolph, how it looks like he’s running his routes faster, a bit more precise, what’s different about him in camp?
A: The first thing I would say, it looks like we’ve got some help with him. We’ve got some guys who can go in there and help him out to keep him fresh and those type of things, I think that’s extremely important. Kyle’s a very smart route runner, he’s got a big, big body so he can bang on people. I think it’s our job as coaches to make sure we’re doing the right things with him. Keeping him fresh as a player with these young kids we’ve got to go with him, I think we’ve got a chance to do that.
Q: You talk about Irv Smith Jr. swimming a little bit, is that just a rookie catching up?
A: Oh absolutely. He’s swimming because we’re asking a lot of him right now. He’s playing all over the place. Brian Pariani has worked a lot of really good tight ends in this league and does a good job of catching them up. We’re asking a lot of Irv (Smith Jr.) but that’s the way that it should be, that’s why he’s here and really excited about working with him.
Q: Why do rookie tight ends sometimes take a while to develop?
A: I think it’s a multiple position. They’re asked to do a lot, you want them to be good on the line of scrimmage, now you want to be a great route runner. I think you ask a little bit more of them I think as rookie players than maybe some guys. The key to being a good tight end is being versatile, being able to move and do a lot. To get that done you have to ask a lot of them. This kid shows all the signs that he’s catching up very fast.
Vikings Special Teams Coordinator Marwan Maalouf
Hey, everyone. Guys have been working hard, getting ready for next week. We play the New Orleans Saints, a week away. So, we’ve been working on fundamentals. Less scheme, more technique, less scheme, more technique just so the guys can play fast.
Q: What do you mean when you talk about technique?
A: Just our fundamentals, our technique, you know. Trying to keep the game plan as simple as possible. That’s what we’re trying to do. We want to keep it simple so our guys play fast, physical and just do well against the Saints. That’s the most important thing—less thinking, more reacting.
Q: What traits do you look for in a kick returner?
A: Our guys have multiple. You’ve seen all the guys that we’ve been putting back there. Obviously, somebody who takes care of the football, that’s huge. We can coach that as well, but they have to be conscious of that. You have got to have speed. You have to be physical, your vision and timing. The vision part is important. We can put different guys, different bodies, back there that are either fast or physical depending on the opponent, depending on the field conditions and all that stuff. The vision and being smart enough to understand the scheme and where everyone’s leverage is when it comes to our blockers is important.
Q: Dan Bailey had a first rough day of camp, but it looks like he is doing better.
A: He has done a good job of getting reps. Timing and tempo with kickers is huge. We are working towards that and it is still a work in progress, by far not perfect yet, but he is doing a good job. The other guys are doing a good job of being on the same page. People forget that this is an unbelievable practice facility, but there is some wind that picks up as well too. I think that is ideal for those kickers and specialists because some of that wind you can’t mimic in a game, so the more different conditions we have the better.
Q: Is Dan the kind of guy you don’t have to worry about since he has been in the league so long?
A: I mean we coach him the same, but it is obviously good to have a veteran presence because he is used to more situations. He has been in more games than some of the younger guys, so he has been a good pro.
Q: How much do you like to have a versatile guy like C.J. Ham?
A: Guys like that are extremely valuable. We’ve put him in a bunch of different positions. We have really put a lot of guys in different positions. We will continue to rotate through just because when regular season comes, that is when you are hit with adversity. If guys are ready and can play multiple positions, that allows us to still put the best people on the field and not have a drop off at one position or the other. C.J. really helps with that, he’s excellent.
Q: Will you be rotating holders or staying with Matt Wile?
A: Matt is our holder, but we are going to keep working a bunch of guys. I have gotten caught in situations in the regular season where guys have gotten hurt. Last year, when I was in Miami, we had our long snapper get hurt and we had to put the back-up long snapper in. I’m telling you guys now; we are going to be practicing other long snappers besides the ones we have here just to prepare for situations because I think that is important. We’ll keep doing the same. We’ll try to find as many different holders as possible that can help us finish a game and maybe add a different element to our field goal unit.
Q: How has Matt Wile come along?
A: As time goes on, he gets better and better. He needs reps, that’s the biggest thing. Everybody needs reps, I need reps. The more I am around these guys the more I get to learn the things that they do well and maybe the things they don’t do well, and I will put them in situations where they can be successful. He has gotten better, he’s definitely gotten better.
Q: Who are those back-up long snappers?
A: We are going to have to have an open audition for that. I have a few guys in mind, but there are always one or two rookies who don’t necessarily volunteer that they’ve done it in the past because it adds a little bit of pressure to them. We find ways to kind of get them to confess and what they’ve done in the past then we know who it is we will give them the reps.
Q: Is that the same way with returners?
A: I kind of approach it with a different perspective. Even if they have never been returners, whether that is in high school or college, but they have ball skills, we are getting them reps. It doesn’t matter if you did it in the past or not, the more people that can do it the better that we become, the more it helps us.