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Edwards suspended four games for violating policy

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- 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."

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 started the day second on the team in sacks, but jumped to
the lead when the Elias Sports Bureau made a scoring change from
the Lions game. Edwards hit quarterback Jon Kitna on the shoulder,
forcing the ball to flutter into defensive end Kenechi Udeze's
hands during a play that was initially ruled an interception.

But on Wednesday, Elias announced it was changing the scoring to
give Edwards a sack -- his fifth of the season -- and Udeze a fumble
recovery. Edwards also has 41 tackles, including five tackles for
loss, 22 quarterback hurries and a touchdown on a 9-yard fumble
return in Week 2 against Detroit.

Edwards will not be allowed at Vikings headquarters or with the
team while he is suspended. Also missing practice on Wednesday were
safety Michael 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 against Denver and could play if the Vikings make the
playoffs.

"A lot of us younger guys like Jayme and myself have to step in
and make sure that there's no dropoff," said Robison, who is
second on the team with 4½ sacks. "It's just like if Ray was
there. That's what we're going to do this week."