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Herzlich can’t catch a break

08.13.10 at 1:59 pm ET

CHESTNUT HILL — An injured right foot is the latest physical hurdle Mark Herzlich has to clear to return to the game he loves.

The fifth-year senior All-American linebacker and Butkus Award finalist was in line to return from his successful bout with Ewing’s sarcoma – a rare bone cancer – when he was diagnosed with a broken right foot and held out of practice at Boston College.

Herzlich sustained the stress fracture while training six weeks ago. Until that injury heals, Herzlich has to stay on the sidelines and was unable to take part Friday’s first full practice with pads.

“It’€™s frustrating, but I obviously have dealt with much worse than a foot fracture,” Herzlich said. “Whatever it is, it’€™s sidelining me right now. I just need to try to get back. It’€™s another thing to hurdle.”

On Friday, for his press conference inside the Conte Forum media room, Herzlich wasn’t wearing a cast or even a protective boot on the right foot but rather a loosely-fitting, untied running shoe for comfort.

Herzlich, the 2008 ACC Defensive Player of the Year, is hopeful to be ready for the season opener with Weber State on Sept. 4 after announcing Friday that X-rays and MRIs showed “significant healing.”

“Right now it’€™s kind of wait and see, see how it progresses. There’€™s no jumping into it too soon, so we are going to be overly cautious with it and make sure it gets fully healed. The last thing we want to do is come back too soon and have it linger throughout the season,” Herzlich added, before predicting, “I’€™ll be back by the first game, but most likely much sooner.”

Sources with knowledge of the injury told Friday there is doubt as to whether Herzlich will be healed enough to play in the season opener – something head coach Frank Spaziani confirmed Friday afternoon.

“Mark’s situation is Mark’s situation,” Spaziani said. “When he’s back, that’s total speculation as far as I’m concerned. Until he gets out there and does it, we’re all rooting for him. You have to take him out of the equation, I think.”

While Herzlich is being held out, he is back to being a glorified assistant defensive coach for such stars as linebacker Luke Kuechly and pass rusher Alex Albright, just like he was in 2009 when he was recovering from Ewing’s sarcoma.

“I’m frustrated for Mark because I know what this means to him and what he’s trying to accomplish,” Spaziani added. “When you cannot assist like you think you want to assist, there’s a little bit of that frustration in there and I understand his frustration. We have to take it as it comes and I think we’ll be fine. It’ll be that much more sweeter when he gets to the goal.”

After four days of workouts and walk-throughs, the BC Eagles had their first day of practice in pads on Friday afternoon on campus.

Read More: ACC, BC Football, frank spaziani, Mark Herzlich
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