Injuries No Concern To James

The reason defensive end Erasmus James fell to the Vikings at No. 18 is because of injuries, but the defensive end says he has no health issues.

When he's on the field, there is little Erasmus James can't handle. He has myriad of different pass-rush moves and makes offensive tackles nervous days before he is scheduled to play them.

But one opponent James has had a much harder time handling is his own medical charts. After missing all of 2003 with a dislocated hip and being severely hampered with a high ankle sprain, he slid down the draft charts to the waiting arms of the Vikings. Why? Because of red flags some teams put next to his name because of past injuries – a frustrating problem James is convinced shouldn't be an issue.

"I feel I don't have any health issues at all," James said. "I know I got hurt last year and sat out (2003), but the doctors said there was no problem with my hip from X-rays or MRIs. The high ankle sprain stopped me this year and when it came back it was about 60 percent (healed). I couldn't help that."

James was one of the few players the Vikings brought in for a pre-draft visit. Aside from wanting to get an up close and personal look at him, they wanted to give him a full medical run down. By this point, James has become used to such inquiries, but, when the testing was finished, James got a clean bill of health.

If he can put his injuries in the rear-view mirror, the Vikings could wind up with of the steal of the draft. Nobody questions his talent and, with the Vikings convinced his health concerns are a non-issue, James has the opportunity to make an immediate impact – something he's confident he can do.

(My strength) is definitely my first two steps (off the snap)," James said. "I have quickness and speed. I'm adding to my upper-body bulk, which I've been working on this past year. I still possess the speed and quickness (despite the added weight), so when I put it all together, it worked out."

From the Vikings perspective, the team believes it has put the building blocks in place for a return to the glory days of the Purple People Eaters front four – with James coming in as the last potential component in a line that could remain largely intact for years to come.

"(James) is one of those players who has the versatility to play either side and the speed to play either side," coach Mike Tice said. "He gives us another defensive lineman with the kind of versatility that we're looking for."

And, if James can make the discussions of past injuries remain in the past, he could be the player that helps the Vikings defense turn the corner into respectability in the NFL.

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