Erasmus James made his first start of the season last Sunday against the Detroit Lions, but it will prove to be his only start of the 2007 season. The Vikings are placing James on the season-ending injured-reserve list Friday afternoon after he re-injured the anterior cruciate ligament that he tore last year.
Last year, James also damaged his medial collateral ligament when he suffered his season-ending injury in the second game of 2006, but the Vikings believe the ACL was the only affected ligament in his latest injury.
"He has worked hard to put himself in place to be the first-string guy again, the position he left. That injury actually happened on the third or the fourth play of the game, so obviously his leg was sufficient to put him through there," head coach Brad Childress said. "He had a little regular swelling on Monday that is not unusual for an ACL. He has seen it before. He came in Tuesday and noticed a little bit more. We MRI'd him right away, thought we saw what we saw and then sent it off to have it re-evaluated, and the findings were concurrent with ours."
The Vikings lost defensive end Darrion Scott in the fourth game of the season, and defensive end Ray Edwards is just beginning a four-game suspension from the league for violating the NFL's policy on steroids and related substances.
The Vikings are promoting linebacker David Herron from the practice squad to the 53-man roster to take James' place. On Wednesday, the team signed defensive end Otis Grigsby in reaction to Edwards' suspension.
James will have to undergo another surgery, his third in the last 14 months on his knee, but Childress said the injury is not career-threatening. Still, Childress admitted it was tough to see James re-injure his knee after working to rehabilitate it all offseason.
"It really is because he has had some setbacks rehab-wise, second surgery-wise, but he just kept pushing and pushing and pushing through there," Childress said. "He was to the point where he could put it on the field and bring it pretty good, and it just tells you how fragile those things are. I think that the only silver lining on this, if there is one, is the fact that I am told that it is only the ACL. Before he had an MCL involved in it and some other things, some other components that required a bunch of rehab, so I would think he will be able to deal with this and deal with it pretty quickly. You have got to remember that he just played a full football game with no effects, so the knee is strong and he just needs to get that fixed."
The Vikings are expected to start rookie fourth-round pick Brian Robison in James' absence, with help from Jayme Mitchell, who recorded his first sack of the season last week in only five snaps of action. Robison is second on the team's sack chart with 4-1/2. Edwards has five sacks.
James was the second of two first-round draft choices for the Vikings in 2005, the other being wide receiver Troy Williamson.
Erasmus James is ready to return to game action on Saturday night after more than 11 months away…