Vikings defensive end Erasmus James continues to rehabilitate his surgically repaired left knee at the team’s Winter Park complex and is hoping to be ready for training camp.
James tore his anterior cruciate ligament and partially tore his medial collateral ligament in the Vikings’ second game of the 2006 season. He underwent surgery in November and then had a minor follow-up procedure in February.
James said he currently is able to run in a pool and is set to visit Colorado-based Dr. Richard Steadman in the next few weeks. Steadman performed both surgeries and examines James every six weeks.
“It’s going great,” he said. “I’m starting to get that confidence back. I’ve been working out. Everything seems to be coming a lot faster now. I’m excited.”
Vikings coach Brad Childress said in March there was a possibility James would start training camp on the physically unable to perform list, but James is hoping to avoid that scenario.
“The doctor originally said training camp,” James said of his timetable. “He still feels that’s good. I’ve just got to take it one step at a time. You can’t really put a timetable on it. You just have to wait and see how you feel. You try and comeback too fast, something could be messed up and it even takes longer to get back.”
The Vikings certainly could use James back at right end. Without one of their top pass rushers on the field for almost all of last year, the team finished tied for 25th in the NFL with 30 sacks. The lack of pressure on the quarterback also was a big reason the Vikings’ pass defense tied for last in the league.
Part of the problem was that starting left (base) end Kenechi Udeze ended up having to move to the right side. Udeze, a good run stopper but far from a great pass-rushing presence, finished the season with no sacks.
The Vikings certainly want to see Erasmus James back on the field, but the team also will be counting on fourth-round pick Brian Robison to help apply pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
The 6-foot-3, 259-pound Robison played football and also excelled in track and field at the University of Texas. He started 36 of 49 games during his four seasons and had 15 sacks and 57 quarterback pressures. Robison also blocked six kicks playing on special teams.
His performance fell off last season because of a variety of ailments and he had a career-low 37 tackles, with 5.5 sacks and 15 pressures.
The Vikings, though, thought enough of him that they made a deal on the second day of the draft with Tampa Bay to move up four spots in the fourth round. The deal cost the Vikings a sixth-round pick but got them the player they wanted and a guy who can line up at either end position.
“He plays with high intensity on the football field, and I don’t think you can put a premium on that,” Vikings coach Brad Childress said. “As I mentioned before, he’s a relentless guy and you know he’s got that speed and athleticism to be a world-class track athlete.”
A five-sport star in high school, Robison said he has been in the “weight room every day” since he was 13 years old. He started four games as a middle linebacker during his freshman season at Texas before being moved to defensive end.
While his 2006 performance on the field probably didn’t help him, Robison caught the attention of more than a few teams at the NFL Combine last February in Indianapolis. In the eight tests designed to gauge the athletic ability of players, Robison beat Gaines Adams in seven of the categories.
Adams, of course, was the fourth pick of the draft. In the 40-yard dash, Robison had a time of 4.68, which was .03 seconds slower than Adams.
“But, you know, my 10-yard dash was 1.5, faster than this 1.6,” Robison said. “And, besides, for a defensive end, the first 10 yards is all that matters anyway. Right?”
QUOTE TO NOTE: “It will be key. He’s a very talented pass rusher and by the time the season comes around I’m looking forward to him being on the right side.” — Defensive end Kenechi Udeze talking about the expected return of teammate and right end Erasmus James from a season-ending knee injury. Udeze, who moved from left to right end last year after James was hurt, did not have a sack.