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having Holmes shut it down for the rest of 2004.

 

KC News

 

Time to hang it up for Holmes?

 

Chiefs ponder ending running back's season

 

By ADAM TEICHER

 

The Kansas City Star

 

Priest Holmes began the season with hopes of gaining 2,000 yards and breaking his own NFL touchdown record.

 

It appears destined to end with a 13-yard carry in the third quarter of an early November game at Tampa Bay, a play where Holmes injured his right knee.

 

The Chiefs were mulling a decision whether to place Holmes on the injured-reserve list, a move that would officially shut him down for the rest of the season. A decision could come as soon as today.

 

“It's not defined yet,” coach Dick Vermeil said. “I'm not going to discuss it past that. I'm just going to play the thing out as I've been instructed. I'll wait until all the information is in before I discuss it. It could be defined (today) and it may not be defined until next week.”

 

The Chiefs continue to believe Holmes' injury, which they've continually referred to as a strained right medial collateral ligament, is no more serious than first thought. They are still of the opinion no surgery will be necessary.

 

But they are clearly frustrated with Holmes' slow pace of recovery. He missed the last four games and won't play Monday night at Tennessee whether he goes on injured reserve or not. The 4-8 Chiefs have only three other games remaining.

 

“All I know is that at the end of four weeks, he's not ready to practice,” Vermeil said. “Then the question is, will he be ready to practice next week? We've only got two more games left after that.”

 

“He's very disappointed the rehab is behind schedule. He knows what the injury is but in the past has always been able to predict when he'd be ready to go. He knows he's not ready to go after four weeks when the original prediction was two to four (weeks). It's at the end of four and he's not ready. Now we have to have another prediction and that's what we're working for now.”

 

The Chiefs, because of the longer than usual week afforded by the Monday night game, didn't practice Wednesday. Holmes was unavailable to comment. Chiefs president/general manager Carl Peterson was out of town and also unavailable.

 

Derrick Blaylock and Larry Johnson replaced Holmes and exceeded expectations. Blaylock rushed for 186 yards in his first career start in New Orleans the week following Holmes' injury. Johnson ran for 118 yards and scored twice in last week's win in Oakland.

 

The Chiefs haven't lost sight of the fact they are much more potent with Holmes than without. They are 1-3 since his injury, failing in all three defeats to score points on a final drive that would have won or tied the game.

 

They also failed in an identical late-game situation minus Holmes against the Buccaneers.

 

That's why the Chiefs were eager for Holmes to return. But the downside is considerable, too. He would be at higher risk for further injury. He may not be effective at less than 100 percent. His return would slow the development of Johnson, who would become more prominent in the Chiefs' plans if Blaylock leaves after the season as a free agent.

 

For the rest of this season, the Chiefs appear resigned to a rotation of Blaylock and Johnson.

 

“It gives Derrick Blaylock a chance to grow as a starter and not wear down,” Vermeil said. “This is his first real opportunity to carry the load. It gives us an opportunity to play Larry and develop him as a player without hurting the offense and maybe helping the offense because he does have power. When he hits you, he still goes forward.

 

“Neither is Priest Holmes. There's only one Priest Holmes. That's not a negative statement. Each running back has his own style and his own talents and both of these guys are different than Priest Holmes.”

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