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  1. #1
    singersp's Avatar
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    Rush job required: Who will replace Erasmus James?

    Posted on Tue, Sep. 19, 2006

    [size=13pt]Rush job required[/size]

    Vikings count on their depth to replace speedy James

    BY SEAN JENSEN
    Pioneer Press


    Roughly a year ago, the Vikings scrambled when starting defensive end Kenechi Udeze was placed on injured reserve with a season-ending knee injury.

    For the next month, the Vikings shuffled their lineup, plugging three players at right defensive end, including defensive tackle Kevin Williams, and even utilizing the 3-4 (three defensive linemen, four linebackers) scheme for three games.

    The Vikings didn't settle on a fixed starting lineup until Nov. 13.

    The defense is again being put to the test at that position, as Erasmus James tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during the fourth quarter of Sunday's 16-13 overtime victory over the Carolina Panthers.

    But the Vikings won't need that long to make adjustments this time around.

    Unlike a year ago, the defensive line has better depth, although James arguably was the team's best pass rusher.

    "It's going to hurt us, but it's not going to kill us," defensive end Darrion Scott said, before coach Brad Childress announced that James would not return this season. "(James is) definitely one of our better pass rushers on the edge, but you can't dwell on it. You have to move on and put the next guy in. The coaches talk about it all the time. If somebody goes down, somebody else has to step in. That's the mentality our defense is trying to have."

    Childress said there's a "bunch of different ways we can go," including looking outside the organization, and he added that he probably would make a decision within 48 hours. But the Vikings have a better chance of finding a unicorn than a talented pass rusher on the street capable of stepping into the starting lineup.

    Instead, the Vikings likely will promote either Jayme Mitchell or Khreem Smith off of their practice squad and add another young defensive lineman. Mitchell would appear the likely candidate because the Vikings carried him on their 53-man roster for two days, after the final cutdown. With the presence of rookie Ray Edwards, who excels as a pass rusher, the Vikings might be more inclined to add the bulkier Mitchell to back up the base end (left side).

    So here are three of the most likely choices the team is weighing:

    1) Flop Udeze back to the right side and insert Scott into the starting lineup at left defensive end.

    This would be the soundest move, with the fewest adjustments needed. Scott, Udeze and starting defensive tackles Kevin Williams and Pat Williams know each other well, and they're all veterans.

    Because the right defensive end typically comes from a right-handed quarterback's blind side, that position demands speed and quickness. Udeze is quicker and faster than Scott, although neither comes close to James.

    Udeze repeatedly has said he prefers to line up on the left side. But he might have to adjust for the betterment of the team. Given his experience, Udeze also has the ability to be stout against the run from the right side.

    In obvious passing situations, the Vikings can put Edwards on the field.

    2) Leave Udeze on the left side, and replace James with Scott.

    The Vikings could keep Udeze where he is most comfortable. But speed becomes a serious concern at right end. Though Scott would be solid in run defense, he could have more trouble getting to the quarterback when consistently matched up against the other team's premier pass protector.

    Last season, Scott had 14 quarterback hurries, but he finished with a modest four sacks in 16 games.

    The Vikings could circumvent this by rotating Edwards into the game on second- and third-and-long situations.

    Usually the first defensive end off the bench, Scott was dependable and consistent last season. Some players stray from the calls on occasion to make plays, but Scott is smart and disciplined enough to stick to his assignment, which means he isn't as inclined to make glaring mistakes.

    3) Keep Udeze at left end and plug Edwards in as the starter on the right side.

    Throughout the preseason and even in the opener, Edwards showcased his explosiveness and playmaking potential. But there is a concern that Edwards could struggle if he were rushed into the starting lineup. A fourth-round pick, Edwards was considered a first-round talent. But he was hurt in the NFL draft because of concerns about his maturity at Purdue.

    Even in Sunday's game, Edwards admitted that he moped on the sideline after making a mistake.

    "I messed up on a play, and I was on the sideline, worrying about it," he said. "I thought I heard a whistle, and I didn't rush the passer."

    Edwards, though, was comforted by Kevin Williams, who encouraged him to move on. That was a welcomed change from Purdue, Edwards said.

    "That's all I used to hear. Everybody used to say, 'Aw. You messed up,' " Edwards recalled. "You heard more criticism.

    "But Kevin said not to worry about it and to worry about the next play."

    Last year, James didn't start his first game until November. Edwards said he has no problem being patient, but he is feeling comfortable in this defense.

    "I'm just going in there and trying to make a name for myself," he said.

    If the Vikings are looking elsewhere, their options are limited.

    DeQuincy Scott, who was cut by the Vikings on Sept. 2, is recovering from a fractured toe and will be out at least three more weeks.

    Former Chicago Bears defensive end Michael Haynes also is injured, and Duane Clemons and Peter Boulware are happily retired.

    There are, however, a handful of players available: Benard Thomas out of Nebraska, DeLawrence Grant out of Oregon State, R-Kal Truluck out of Cortland State (N.Y.) and Alain Kashama out of Michigan.

    As for James, his agent, Ethan Locke, said no decision has been made on where he will undergo surgery. But Childress said James would wait a few weeks before having the procedure.

    Staff writer Don Seeholzer contributed to this story.

    "If at first you don't succeed, parachuting is not for you"

  2. #2
    Del Rio Guest

    Re: Rush job required: Who will replace Erasmus James?

    I would move Udeze to the right (like the article states) and use him as a blindside rusher. I think Scott is more then capable of carrying the load and the only thing that worries me is him getting sucked in on counters or biting on the play fake and not containing the outside.

    Scott can get a pass rush too, but his sacks seem to come more from coverage then his own accord, and with our zone we need pressure from the front.

  3. #3
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    Re: Rush job required: Who will replace Erasmus James?

    "Del" wrote:
    I would move Udeze to the right (like the article states) and use him as a blindside rusher. I think Scott is more then capable of carrying the load and the only thing that worries me is him getting sucked in on counters or biting on the play fake and not containing the outside.

    Scott can get a pass rush too, but his sacks seem to come more from coverage then his own accord, and with our zone we need pressure from the front.
    What about Ray Edwards?
    That's who it seemed like Tomlin was playing on Sunday once James went down....

    =Z=

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  4. #4
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    Re: Rush job required: Who will replace Erasmus James?

    i tihnk R.e will be the innitial replacement, with Scott freshing him up.

    there might be some looks to that put K.u over there. but that'll come
    from the staff's decisions.
    and i'm sure they know their guys now.

    DiGiTaL

    "We tried to stick with it, but there was a point where we were beating our head against a wall," Seattle Coach Mora talking about running at the Williams Wall

  5. #5
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    Re: Rush job required: Who will replace Erasmus James?

    I think Scott has the potential to be even better than James.
    I hate to see a guy go down, but I'm excited to see Scott get a chance to play a bigger role.
    He won't disappoint.
    542cbf305f333b0554e8ffa937f852d6

  6. #6
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    Re: Rush job required: Who will replace Erasmus James?

    yes i agree, i would put KU over there and split time with scott and edwards, get edwards more playing time as that is what he needs now, i think he will catch on real quick and do a good job,
    I BLEED THE COLOR PURPLE

  7. #7
    Del Rio Guest

    Re: Rush job required: Who will replace Erasmus James?

    "AWZeus" wrote:
    "Del" wrote:
    I would move Udeze to the right (like the article states) and use him as a blindside rusher. I think Scott is more then capable of carrying the load and the only thing that worries me is him getting sucked in on counters or biting on the play fake and not containing the outside.

    Scott can get a pass rush too, but his sacks seem to come more from coverage then his own accord, and with our zone we need pressure from the front.
    What about Ray Edwards?
    That's who it seemed like Tomlin was playing on Sunday once James went down....

    =Z=
    From what I have read Tomlin rotates all his players around even Kevin Williams, so I imagine both guys will get plenty of playing time. I have always like Scott and he is prooven. I imagine whoever makes the most out of the time they get on the field will earn more time.

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