The Vikings locker room was buzzing with activity Thursday, as players zipped in and out – some getting ready to get treatment while others prepared for the afternoon practice. Players were scurrying in all directions with one notable exception – guard Anthony Herrera.
Herrera, who had knee surgery performed by team doctor James Boyd on Dec. 2, was lumbering through the locker room – gingerly taking steps on the surgically repaired left knee that ended his 2010 season during the Vikings' win over the Redskins.
In his first statement since the surgery, Herrera said that there weren't any surprises when the surgery was performed, which he viewed as a positive.
"It was pretty much what was expected," Herrera said. "The ACL was torn and there weren't any real surprises. I wasn't asking a lot of questions, but wasn't told that it was worse than what they thought initially."
While some other players have gone outside the organization to have their own offseason surgeries, Herrera said he has no hesitation with going with Dr. Boyd. He has done successful surgeries on other Vikings players and said there wasn't a moment's hesitation about having him perform his surgery.
"I thought Dr. Boyd did a great job with it and my job is to rehab it hard and get it back right," Herrera said. "He did (Cedric) Griffin's surgery and (Heath) Farwell's. He's been doing this for 20 years, so I had a lot of confidence in him doing my surgery. He's got a great track record."
This was the first significant injury of his career, much less something that can threaten a career like a major knee injury. He has reached out to teammates that have gone through the arduous rehabilitation process and said that he is aware of the long road to recovery that he is facing.
"Everybody who has gone through has been giving me some tips about what they went through and what I can expect," Herrera said. "They've let me know what I'll be feeling and what I'll be going through. It's going to be a long process, but I'm ready for it."
He said the biggest initial problem for him was missing last Sunday's game with the Buffalo Bills. Just three days removed from surgery, it was deemed that his ailing knee wouldn't be helped by standing on the sidelines for three hours or more. He said it was difficult for him to watch his teammates on TV because it is a foreign concept that he's never experienced before.
"It's the first time I've had to do that since I've been playing football," Herrera said. "It's a new experience for me, but it as alright. I had the kids and my family there with me, so it was good."
One of the things Herrera said he is looking forward to is becoming a de facto position coach for the young linemen on the active roster and the practice squad. While he has been focused solely on getting the healing process started, he said he is looking forward to get back with his teammates to help coach up the younger players and pay forward what he was taught by veteran players when he started his own career.
"I haven't been able to do much with the younger guys because, at this point, I'm just trying to get used to wearing the brace and getting my legs under me," Herrera said. "I haven't been able to help them as much as I would want to, but as time goes on, I'll be able to. When I'm able to walk around on it better, I will be out there helping them as much as I can."
He said that he is going to be a fixture at Winter Park in the coming days, weeks and months. The rehab process has already begun and Herrera said that he expects to spend hundreds of hours at the team facility in an effort to get his knee back to 100 percent as soon as possible.
"It's going to be every day of the week except for Sundays," Herrera said. "I'm going to be spending a lot of time here (at Winter Park). We'll be working on range of motion, getting the strength back and getting the swelling out of it."
Herrera said he is going to approach the rehab process the same way he has approached the game – giving maximum effort at all times and letting his hard work be what motivates him through the difficult months to come.
"I'm going to go at it full speed – foot in the ground and pedal to the metal," Herrera said. "Nothing should slow us down. I have 100 percent faith in them and they have 100 percent faith in me. One of the biggest things with rehab is that it's all mental. I trust them and we're going to get it done."
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for 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.
Herrera prepared for long recovery process
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