In case you missed it over the weekend, tucked into the Vikings notebook I filed from beautiful, sunny Thief River Falls was an update on a pair of starting offensive linemen who are working their way back from torn pectoral muscles.
Right guard Brandon Fusco and right tackle Phil Loadholt were part of a group of six Vikings players who appeared at Arctic Blast up in the northwest corner of the state. Fusco had season-ending surgery for a torn pectoral muscle in late September. Loadholt was lost to a similar injury in November.
Naturally, Fusco is ahead of Loadholt in his recovery, so we’ll start with him.
Fusco suffered his injury in the third game of the season. Vlad Ducasse got the first crack at replacing him, but he struggled and veteran backup Joe Berger was given a shot. Berger held his own, but Fusco’s absence was noticeable.
Fusco has been lifting weights “for three, four weeks now.” He has only worked with weight machines and not free weights, so he hasn’t done a full bench press. But he is starting to feel like himself again, and he assured me he could still bench more than me, which is roughly 85 pounds.
“I’m not setting records right now, but I’m getting up there progressively,” he said.
Fusco typically goes back home to Pittsburgh in the offseason, but he has stayed behind in Minnesota to continue to rehab his injury. He did say, though, that later this month he will head back to Pittsburgh — and feast on some Primanti Bros. He is hopeful that he will be ready to go by the start of OTAs.
As for Loadholt, he says he is “right on pace with where the trainers want me to be at.” Loadholt, who tore his pectoral muscle in Week 12 and was replaced by Mike Harris, has started lifting weights, too, and is working on building his strength back up. The right tackle and the training staff don’t have a target return date yet, but he hopes to participate in some fashion during the spring activities.
“We never really set an exact date, but I’m definitely going to be participating, doing some stuff in the spring, and I’ll definitely be ready for training camp,” Loadholt said. “That’s not even a question right now.”
Loadholt said it has been helpful to have Fusco around as he rehabs his injury.
“I can use him as a gauge,” Loadholt said. “He’s through everything I’m going through right now, so I’m just trying to stay on pace and get ready for the year.”