Anthony Herrera returned to the practice field today for the first time since suffering a torn left anterior cruciate ligament last Nov. 21 against the Green Bay Packers at the Metrodome.
Herrera, the Vikings' starting right guard since November 2007, worked with the first team during group installation drills after being activated from the physically-unable-to-perform list. He had to pass a physical before being taken off that list. Herrera, who was wearing a protective wrap on his knee, declined to comment as he left the field, saying he had to go get treatment.
"We didn’t anticipate him being on the field until maybe next week at the earliest, and the fact that he’s out here a week earlier than we anticipated, that’s a good sign," coach Leslie Frazier. Frazier said there is a chance Herrera could get a series on Saturday night in Seattle, depending on how things go this week in practice.
Herrera did not do any work in 11-on-11 drills during Monday's practice at Winter Park -- the Vikings broke camp in Mankato last Friday -- opening the door for Scott Kooistra and Ryan Cook to get reps. Cook replaced Herrera after he was injured last season.
That was interesting because Chris DeGeare had played left guard while Herrera was out. DeGeare started at that position in the Vikings' preseason opener Saturday night at Tennessee, but on Monday he was used at right tackle in the team drills.
"No, we’re not taking [DeGeare] out of the mix [at right guard], but we want to able to give him a chance to work some tackle along with Jon Cooper," Frazier said. "We’re going to flop those guys a little bit and just see what kind of position flexibility they can give us and you know on that offensive line if you can find a couple guys that can do that, it just helps you numbers-wise when you come to game day. We’re going to give Chris a chance to see how he does in that regard."
Cooper, the Vikings' backup center, actually will get work at guard and center now.
Asked how DeGeare looked on tape Saturday, Frazier said: "He actually graded OK. There were some things that he could do better, and I’m sure he would say the same. But overall, he did a pretty decent job. He’ll get some other opportunities."
Frazier's intention is to leave Kooistra at tackle for the most part. That means the competition for right guard will be between Herrera, DeGeare and Cook.
Still on the sideline
Tight end Visanthe Shiancoe (hamstring) and linebacker Kenny Onatolu (foot) remained out of practice.
Onatolu is no longer wearing a walking boot on his left foot, but Frazier doesn't expect him to play until the third preseason game against Dallas.
Shiancoe likely will sit out again Saturday after straining his hamstring last week. "[We] just want to be cautious," Frazier said. "We’d like to take a look at the other guys. We kind of know where Shianc is. If it were a game situation, maybe, but no, preseason, we should be all right."
Linebacker Heath Farwell (hamstring), offensive tackle Thomas Welch (glute) and defensive end D'Aundre Reed (strained calf) did not practice Monday. Rookie safety Mistral Raymond, coming off a hamstring pull suffered last week, was limited.
- Rhett Bomar did not play Saturday but Frazier said that wasn't because the team was taking disciplinary action against the quarterback after he was arrested for alleged drunken driving the previous week. “No, we intended to play him," Frazier said. "We want to play him, and hopefully we’ll get him in the ballgame this coming weekend. Because we want to see him on tape and get a chance to evaluate him as well. We just didn’t have the chance to get him in there.”
- Christian Ponder worked with the second-team offense on Monday and Joe Webb was the third quarterback. Webb played after starter Donovan McNabb at Tennessee, but that will change against the Seahawks. Ponder will be second off the bench and Webb will be third.
- Among the highlights of today's practice, which was conducted in shorts and shoulder pads: Ponder threw a pass over the middle in 7-on-7 that should have been intercepted by Ross Homan. The rookie linebacker dropped the ball. Bomar did throw a pick in the same drill, having his pass tipped by wide receiver Devin Aromashodu into the hands of linebacker Mark Washington. Kyle Rudolph made a nice catch of a Donovan McNabb pass down the left side.