James was arrested last weekend after police says he lost his temper when a bartender refused to serve him after closing time. Police say James punched a friend in the face.
The 27-year-old James stood silently Thursday in Dane County Circuit Court and a not guilty plea was entered for him on the misdemeanor disorderly conduct charge.
James also is charged with felony battery. A hearing on that charge is scheduled for Nov. 30.
As conditions of his release, James isn't allowed to return to the bar or consume alcohol. James' attorney, Steve Mays, declined to comment.
A former Wisconsin standout at defensive end, James played three injury-plagued seasons for the Vikings after being picked 18th overall in 2005. He was traded to Washington last year and played in five games before being cut in December.