Defiant Anthony Herrera says he's ready: 'I didn't have any concerns'
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Anthony Herrera has broken his silence. But he's making clear he expects his play on Saturday night to do most of the talking.
The Minnesota Vikings' veteran right guard offered a series of terse answers in a brief session with reporters after Thursday's practice, saying his reconstructed left knee "feels great" and he never has doubted he'll be ready for the Sept. 11 opener at San Diego.
"I didn't have any concerns," Herrera said. "You guys were the ones that were out there speculating or whatever. I had no concerns. Neither did the coaches or the training staff."
Herrera, 31, has overcome adversity before. He joined the Vikings roster as an undrafted free agent in 2004, rebounded from a leg infection in 2005 and broke into the starting lineup in 2007 at right guard, where he started all but two games over the next four seasons before blowing out the knee on Nov. 21.
"He has something to prove," coach Leslie Frazier said, "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."
The Vikings activated Herrera from the camp/physically unable to perform list on Aug. 15 but held him out of last weekend's exhibition at Seattle. Frazier repeatedly has said there was competition for the position, although that took a blow when front-runner Scott Kooistra suffered a season-ending neck injury against the Seahawks.
"I see there's some things that have to come as (Herrera) gets more experienced," Frazier said. "He's wearing a brace right now, so he has to get comfortable doing that again. 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."
The first real test of his progress will come against the Dallas Cowboys in Saturday's exhibition at the Metrodome, where Herrera's injury occurred in a loss to Green Bay. He's expected to start, and how long he stays in will depend in large part on how he holds up.
Asked if it has been challenging to go through rehabilitation, Herrera said, "It's just another day. You've got to go out, whether you're on the field or rehabbing or whatever, you've got to go out and work hard and everything will take care of itself."
"We'll have a better determination after this game," Frazier said. "(Herrera)'s going to play for the first time in a long time. So. we'll have to get some stuff on tape and talk to him after the ballgame and see where he is and try to make a decision going forward."