NOTEBOOK: James Coming On Strong

Defensive end Erasmus James played for the University of Wisconsin and is starting to come on strong in his play as the Vikings prepare to travel to Lambeau Field. Plus, find out which former Vikings are being honored in New York and which former Vikings are signing and working out around the league.

Defensive end Erasmus James made a homecoming of sorts in his return to New York. James grew up in the Bronx before attending high school in Florida.

He made his second consecutive start and contributed the whole game Sunday.

"I really like Erasmus' playmaking ability. I think all the coaches do. We have some growing pains with him. The more and more plays he is playing he is still wearing down a little bit," Tice said. "He has some things he was born with. He has some things he can do that no other player on the team can do. He is going to make good plays. I think he had four or five quarterback hits. That is a lot. We need to continue to play him and hopefully he'll learn the schemes better and play with more confidence. He is a big play guy and he is becoming more of a big play for us at the right time. We are excited for him. It is about time."

James was credited with four tackles and a pass defensed against the Giants. For the season, James is credited with 12 quarterback hurries, tied with Kevin Williams for the team lead even though James' playing time was limited up until the last two games.

He will be getting another pseudo-homecoming on Monday night in Green Bay, as James played for the University of Wisconsin before becoming the 18th overall selection in the 2005 NFL Draft.

CENTER OF UNCERTAINTY

Melvin Fowler started his fifth straight game for the Vikings against the Giants, but backup Cory Withrow replaced Fowler in the second half. It's uncertain whether a pregame injury to Fowler's oblique was the sole reason that move was made or if it was more because of the trouble the offensive line was having with the Giants defense.

"Cory came in because Melvin got hurt in pregame warm-ups. I felt that he was not horrible, but he wasn't effective as in the previous weeks," Tice said of Fowler. "He had that look. You know I always talk about that look and he had that look so I made that change. It is as simple as that."

HOLDING BACK

The Vikings are still within striking distance of the NFC North-leading Chicago Bears, trailing them by two games, but Tice isn't looking too far ahead or getting too excited with the team's first two-game winning streak of the season.

"We have to win this game this week. This is the thing that I'm excited about, going to Green Bay and playing on Monday night. A team that we know very well, that knows us very well. It will give us a chance to get back to .500 with six games to go, four at home and two away. That is a pretty good schedule for us so I like how things are coming together, but we have long way to go.

"I can't sit here and do cartwheels over 137 yards of offense, but I talked many, many times that every week there is something to fix. If there wasn't anything to fix then the team could run itself and Zygi (Wilf) could coach the team. But there is something to fix every week and that is what we as coaches get paid for and that is what players get paid for, to get better every week. I'm not excited yet. Now is not the time to get excited because we really haven't done anything. We are still 4-5. We are under .500. I'll get excited when we move into first place, but that is going to take some time and some doing. "

HONORS AHEAD

Former Minnesota Viking and NFL Hall of Famer Alan Page will be awarded the "Distinguished American Award" by the National Football Foundation at its 48th annual awards dinner on Dec. 6 at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City.

Former Vikings defensive line coach and current Vikings pro personnel senior consultant Paul Wiggin will be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame for his career at Stanford. Wiggin has spent almost five decades in the NFL as a player, coach and personnel evaluator.

WORK WANTED

  • Two former Vikings were out looking for work last week and another one found work this week.

  • Defensive back Ken Irvin, coming off Achilles surgery last year and who was asked to try to make the transition from cornerback to safety with the Vikings this year, was released last week when the Vikings finally decided to add a third quarterback, J.T. O'Sullivan, as a replacement for Daunte Culpepper. Culpepper was placed on injured reserve after tearing his MCL, PCL and ACL. Irvin was visiting the defending champion New England Patriots.

  • Center Shawn Lynch, who spent some time with the Vikings during the 2004 offseason, was trying out for the Houston Texans.

  • Safety Jack Brewer, who played for the Gophers, Vikings and most recently the New York Giants, was signed by the Philadelphia Eagles. Among other business ventures, Brewer had been offering Vikings and Gophers commentary on Fox Sports Net North Live (Direct TV 641 or 642) on Monday nights.

  • Former Minnesota Gophers defensive back Jermaine Mays, who spent time with the Vikings, worked out for Cleveland.


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