James the Starter?

There's an axiom in the NFL that says a starter doesn't lose his job due to injury. Most people don't believe that notion for a second unless it's at quarterback, because people lose their jobs to injury every season. But defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said that, after the return of Erasmus James from the PUP list, he's the starting DE when healthy.

The career of Erasmus James took a serious U-turn early last season. Entering the 2006 season, the goal for James and fellow first-round draft pick and defensive end Kenechi Udeze was to each have double-digit sacks. James went down in early portion of the regular season with a knee injury, Uzeze was shifted to the rush end position and didn't record a sack all season.

The Vikings have been waiting to get James back from the injured list ever since. That day finally came during Sunday's afternoon practice in preparation for their game with the Jets this Friday. After missing the first 19 practices while on the physically unable to perform list, James finally made it back to the field.

While it has been almost a year since he's played, defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said that if he's healthy, James will regain his position as a starting DE.

"It comes down to his health. He's the starter if he is healthy. He hasn't done anything to not be the starter other than he got hurt. If he can make it back, he'll be our starter, and other guys understand that," Frazier said. "They would want it the same way if they were injured and lost their position. We're hoping he's back healthy, and when that time comes he'll be inserted into the starting lineup."

But, considering that the Vikings run a defensive end rotation that gets four DEs plenty of playing time, being a starter is more a of a title than a lock on long-term playing time.

* Rufus Alexander will be placed on injured reserve after a MRI Sunday revealed a torn right ACL. Offensive lineman Dan Mozes, who went down early in camp, is scheduled to see Dr. James Andrews this week.
* The Vikings signed DT Fred Evans, a second-year player who was released by the Dolphins in June after being arrested by Miami police that used tasers to subdue him. While the Vikings have a policy about character being a primary issue with their players, Childress said the team has done its due diligence in background information on Evans and are confident that he won't be a problem or a distraction.
* One of the highlights of Sunday's practice was a brawl between RB Mewelde Moore and DE Brian Robison. On the play, QB Brooks Bollinger rolled to his right and Robison and Moore were behind the play. Moore was holding Robison, who took offense to it and soon the players were rolling on the ground and throwing punches. They appeared to mend fences, as the two were seen leaving the practice field together talking.
* Childress has inkled that Bollinger might be the start for Friday's game with the Jets because of his familiarity with the system. However, if Tarvaris Jackson is going to be the starter, he needs all the work he can get against first-team defenses, not their second team.
* With no progress being made in the Raiders negotiations with top pick JaMarcus Russell, Daunte Culpepper moves one step closer to trying to lock down a starting job – something he wouldn't have had if he had stayed with the Dolphins or signed the three-year deal that reportedly offer him by the Jaguars.

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