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Hjalte Froholdt Works At Being Center Of Attention

Veteran backup is Cardinals' man in middle of offensive line for now

Offensive lineman Hjalte Froholdt works during a Phase Two drill in front of offensive line coach Klayton Adams.
Offensive lineman Hjalte Froholdt works during a Phase Two drill in front of offensive line coach Klayton Adams.

The Instagram video features Hjalte Froholdt at home in his personal weight room, talking about "my ladies" – a personal riff on a social media meme that allows him to show off the equipment the Cardinals offensive lineman uses to stay in NFL shape.

Froholdt is just having a little fun – "I enjoy my gym, so those are my ladies," he said with a smile – but he truly loves the idea of lifting weights and, given his Danish roots, the Strongman lifestyle.

It's not every day an NFL player has Atlas Stones in his personal gym, but "I enjoy challenging myself," Froholdt said.

That's good, since the Cardinals are doing just that, using the veteran as – at least for now – their first-string center in the very early stages of coach Jonathan Gannon's tenure. A lot can change in the months ahead of course, and the potential signing of a more experienced veteran center is possible and even likely.

But Froholdt (his first name is pronounced "YELL-da") knows his role will be at the least as a reserve on the interior of the line. That's guard, his natural spot, but also snapping the ball, a lesson he learned last season in Cleveland.

The Browns at one point had their top three centers – Nick Harris, Ethan Pocic and Michael Dunn – all on Injured Reserve (and a fourth, rookie Dawson Deaton, was on IR from the preseason). Froholdt was forced to start four games at a position he had never played.

"I did my best at what I needed to do, and I'm proud of my efforts and proud of my production but I was lucky to be surrounded by amazing players and an amazing coach," Froholdt said. "I kind of got thrown into the fire a little bit but I was happier that way – I didn't have to think much about it. I just went out and played some ball."

Froholdt, who didn't begin playing football until he was 12 in his native Denmark and ramped up again when he was a high school exchange student in Ohio as a sophomore, knew last season with the Browns he'd have to work on playing center.

He just didn't think he'd play there.

"It was, 'Hey you're going to learn to play center and you're going to be a guard' and he loves to work at it," said Cardinals offensive coordinator Drew Petzing, who was the Browns quarterbacks coach last year. "That is very much his personality and a big reason why he is here."

There are veterans out there available, like Ben Jones or Pat Elflein or Sam Mustipher. In the meantime, Froholdt said he benefits from offensive line coach Klayton Adams, who was in Indianapolis previously and has his group watching video of center Ryan Kelly and Pro Bowl guard Quentin Nelson, two of the better players at their position.

Froholdt doesn't have any illusions of his experience, either.

"I am still trying to develop at the center position," he said.

The Cardinals also have Lecitus Smith, a draft pick from 2022 who had no center experience coming into the league but has worked on that skill himself.

"I like where (the position) is at right now," coach Jonathan Gannon said. "Fro has done a really good job for us in there these last couple weeks here and we'll continue to evaluate that as we get going."

Froholdt, who already was living in the Valley before he signed with the Cardinals, will continue to try and improve himself in the facility and at home with his "ladies." He wants to own more Strongman equipment, to continue to incorporate the 'odd lift de jour" into his workouts.

Maybe, when his centering days – OK, his offensive line days – are over, Froholdt might consider being the next Sven-Ole Thorsen or René Minkwitz.

"We will see," Froholdt said. "I enjoy the sport. No comments on that yet. But I do think I need to compete in something when I am done with football. I don't think I can just chill by the pool.."

Images of the Arizona Cardinals starting phase two of the offseason workout program at the Dignity Health Training Facility

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