Herrera ready for his 2011 debut

Anthony Herrera (Tom Dahlin/Viking Update)

Anthony Herrera did his best to downplay his return and the rehabilitation process coming back from a torn ACL, but he will be making his first start at right guard since last November. Will he be ready for the regular season? He and Frazier both commented on that, with different approaches.

The last time Anthony Herrera played in a game, Brad Childress was still head coach of the Minnesota Vikings and the old roof of the Metrodome was still inflated.

Herrera will get his first crack at playing in a game since last November, when he tore his anterior cruciate ligament, and he talked for the first time this year about his comeback from the injury. His comments were brief and guarded, although he admitted he was excited to get back into game action.

"Very much so. Anytime I get to go out and be with my teammates and my team, just play football, it's what I love to do," he said.

Although he has been practicing for two weeks, Saturday's game against the Dallas Cowboys will be his preseason debut. He said he never doubted he would be back for the regular-season opener.

"I didn't have any concerns. You guys were the ones that were out there speculating or whatever," he told reporters. "I had no concerns. Neither did the coaches or the training staff."

Said Vikings coach Leslie Frazier: "He has something to prove, and he wants to prove something to everybody, including us as coaches, whether or not he can do it or not. We're all excited to see him come back and play, and we're all pulling for him. He's a tremendous competitor, a leader for our offensive line and for our team, and we're all pulling for him and hoping for the best."

Herrera has been taking first-team snaps since last week, but the Vikings made the decision to hold him out of last Saturday's game at Seattle. Frazier said it remains to be seen what role Herrera will have in the future, and that will depend a great deal on how he performs against Dallas.

"I see there's some things that have to come as he gets more experienced. He's wearing a brace right now, so he has to get comfortable doing that again," Frazier said. "Just being able to get that explosion back, that's the one thing that takes a little bit longer when you're coming off an ACL surgery. Being able to get that burst. He's going to need that and part of getting that back is practicing."

Despite Herrera's insistence that he never doubted he would be ready for the regular-season opener, the Vikings are waiting to reserve judgment on that.

"You know, it's hard to say at this point just because of where we are and the fact that he hasn't lined up in such a long time. So I'd have a better handle after this ballgame is over," Frazier said.

"… For Anthony, it'll be the first time for him getting back to live competition. That's a mental hurdle he has to get through. I think he will, but yeah, there's going to be some trepidation early on."

Herrera downplayed the rehab process and said his knee feels "great."

Injury roll call: While the Vikings are getting Herrera back in action, several injured players will be held back on Saturday, including CB Asher Allen (toe), RB Toby Gerhart (ankle/Achilles), LBs Jasper Brinkley (hip), Ross Homan (concussion), Mark Washington (shoulder) and Heath Farwell (hamstring), TE Visanthe Shiancoe (hamstring) and DT Kevin Williams (foot).

Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.

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