By Jon Krawczynski
EDEN PRAIRIE — Minnesota Vikings defensive end Ray Edwards has been suspended four games for violating the NFL’s policy on steroid use.
Edwards has been a starter for most of the season, but was replaced by Erasmus James for last Sunday’s game against Detroit. Coach Brad Childress said that decision had nothing to do with Edwards’ violation, which the coach learned of on Wednesday morning.
Childress said he was disappointed in Edwards and could not comment further because of the confidentiality surrounding the policy.
"It’s disappointing, but there are policies in place and our players have to adhere to those policies," Childress said. "Every team goes through challenges as you go through the year. We’ve been through some of our own. It’s an opportunity to have others step up."
The Associated Press left a message with Edwards’ agent, Doug Hendricks, seeking comment.
The Vikings (6-6) will turn to James, rookie Brian Robison and Jayme Mitchell to fill in during Edwards’ absence. The Vikings have won three games in a row to rebound from a 2-5 start and play at San Francisco (3-9) on Sunday.
"I guess we’re taking it about as good as a team can," Robison said. "We know things happen, and you just have to make sure that when things do happen, you just have to push through it and come together as a team and make sure we keep playing the way we’re playing."
James, who recently returned after a major knee injury in Week 2 of last season, missed practice on Wednesday after Childress said he "banged his knee a little bit" against the Lions on Sunday.
Edwards is in his second year out of Purdue. The fourth-round draft pick has been one of the Vikings’ most consistent performers at defensive end.
He is first on the team in sacks with five.
Edwards will not be allowed at Vikings headquarters or with the team while he is suspended. Also missing practice on Wednesday were safety Mike Doss (hamstring), safety Tank Williams (knee), linebacker E.J. Henderson (illness) and receiver Robert Ferguson (personal).
Edwards is eligible to return to the team after the Dec. 30 season finale.