Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


Film review: Herrera easily passes first hurdle

Posted by: Mark Craig under Vikings, Leslie Frazier, Vikings offense, Adrian Peterson, Anthony Herrera, Leslie Frazier, Phil Loadholt Updated: August 28, 2011 - 2:18 PM

The Vikings are off today and return Monday afternoon for a short week of practice, so let's try to make this short and then go find a lake or a golf course to enjoy ...

Coach Leslie Frazier obviously hadn't studied the film when he was asked about right guard Anthony Herrera moments after Saturday night's 23-17 loss to the Cowboys.

Herrera started in his first game back since major left knee surgery nine months ago. He played until the 1:38 mark of the second quarter.

Asked if Herrera had made progress in his return, Frazier said, "I think so. I got to watch a little bit of tape on him, but it didn't look like he was overmatched. It didn't look like the leg inhibited him in any way and he came off confident about where he was, so it's encouraging for our team. I think we have a chance to make a push for him for that first [regular season] game, but we'll talk about that this week."

I'm no line coach, but after studying the film earlier today for my Monday story, I thought Herrera played very well. He was strong at the front of the pocket in pass protection, and he showed that feisty side that helps him give Adrian Peterson that little seam he needs to make one of those All-Pro moves and take off.

Herrera did well when he had to seal off the nose tackle, or drive the end one way while Peterson broke the other, or when he pulled and kicked out the linebacker while Peterson ran for 11 yards on third-and-one.

When Herrera went to the sidelines, the Vikings were averaging 6.4 yards per carry and hadn't allowed a sack. The only sack allowed on Donovan McNabb came three plays after Herrera left, when the Cowboys overloaded the gap of backup right guard Ryan Cook. The only knockdown the Vikings gave up with McNabb on the field came when right tackle Phil Loadholt was beaten on a speed rush.

We'll get Frazier's take on Herrera on Monday. But it looks like Herrera took a giant leap toward reclaiming his starting right guard job heading into the season. The only question mark now is whether his conditioning level can be brought up to the level of his linemates over the next two weeks. Otherwise, I think the right guard competition is over.

I also write about new left tackle Charlie Johnson and how in this particular game he earned a pat on the back rather than the kick in the rear we've all been giving him the past three weeks. Johnson controlled the Cowboys' defensive ends and All-Pro outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware.

However, I must note after watching the film that Ware looked completely disinterested. For the most part, he was going through the motions the way you see players do in a Pro Bowl.

Now go tee em up. 

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