James explains traverse process injury

Updated: October 13, 2003, 8:10 PM ET
Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS -- Edgerrin James set the record straight regarding a sore back that forced him to miss the Indianapolis Colts' 23-20 overtime loss to Carolina Sunday afternoon in the RCA Dome.

Edgerrin James

"Everybody just thinks I'm sore, but there is a reason I'm sore," he said Sunday after the game. "If it was a deep bruise, I'd have been in there."

James explained that he suffered damage to his transverse process (lower back) when the helmet of a Jacksonville player slammed into his back in a Sept. 21 game.

The transverse process is a small lateral projection off the right and left sides of each vertebra, and functions as an attachment site for muscles and ligaments of the spine. James has one broken bone along with a hairline fracture of another.

"All you can do is let it rest," said James, who has missed three games.

Since James was injured, the Colts have described James' predicament as a sore back. Team officials have declined to be specific. He's been listed as "questionable" on the NFL's injury report, even though he has practiced twice in each of the past two weeks.

"The doctors have told me when he's pain-free and he can't do any more damage to his back, he'll play," coach Tony Dungy said.

The Colts do not allow team doctors to discuss injuries with the media.

In 2001, former guard Steve McKinney suffered a fractured transverse process and missed two games. Minnesota quarterback Daunte Culpepper has missed the Vikings' past two games after sustaining a similar injury earlier this season.

James vowed Sunday to return to the backfield when the Colts host Houston Oct. 26. They are off next Sunday.

That he hasn't played the past three weeks, James noted, has been a matter of being cautious with the back injury.

"You've got to be smart about it," he said. "We're winning, we've got a long season ahead of us and we've got guys who can play.

"If I get out there and mess (the back) up worse, then it's real bad. Then people say, 'That was stupid. They're winning so why is he playing?'"

Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press