Archive for Saturday, August 9, 2003

Arrowhead to get peek at Holmes

August 9, 2003


— Now it's the home crowd's turn to see if Priest Holmes is ready to pick up where he left off as the finest running back in the NFL.

The NFL's offensive player of the year in 2002 -- despite missing the last two games because of a hip injury -- Holmes figures to get six or eight carries today when the Kansas City Chiefs play host to the San Francisco 49ers in their first home exhibition game.

Monday against Green Bay in the Hall of Fame game, Holmes carried five times for 14 yards. As he has done in training camp, he showed no ill effects from the hip surgery he underwent in March.

For Holmes, the preseason carries are important in another way as well.

He's determined to show the Chiefs he's fully healthy and has a right to demand a contract extension and more money. Chiefs president Carl Peterson has said he was willing to negotiate an extension, but only after Holmes proved he was back to full speed.

"I've had too many injuries over my career to let this one injury in particular stop me from doing the things I want to do," said Holmes, who has led the NFL in total yards from scrimmage each of the past two years.

It will be the second exhibition outing for the Chiefs, who had a 9-0 win Monday night against the Packers in a game that was cut short by a lightning storm.

Coach Dick Vermeil said he planned to play his starters at least through the first quarter. Along with Holmes' rehabilitated hip, the Chiefs are also keeping a close eye on a revamped defense.

Getting a good look will be safety Jerome Woods, who missed all of last season because of a leg broken in an exhibition game. Woods' return is being counted on to help shore up the secondary. But a steel rod inserted into the leg has caused irritation and kept him out of several practices.

Nevertheless, the defense got high marks in its brief action against Green Bay.

"All I know is we're making progress," Vermeil said. "They played well within the environment we were playing and they'll get better from there. Really, overall it was a pretty good performance."

Tonight's will be San Francisco's first game under new head coach Dennis Erickson, who has decided to leave his team's No. 1 offensive performer at home. Quarterback Jeff Garcia will spend the night rehabilitating his ailing back.

"We don't want him traveling with that back," Erickson said. "We'll see on Monday. He's going to have to monitor his own pace, as far as what he feels he can and can't do and make sure that he doesn't overdo it, particularly now.

"It's not near as bad as it was. It's not even close."

Wide receiver Terrell Owens might also sit out because of a strained groin.

Starting at quarterback will be backup Tim Rattay. Also figuring to see action will be Brandon Doman and Ken Dorsey, who are fighting for the third-string spot.

"From my time that I've spent with Tim, he's a guy that prepares to be a starter all the time," said Erickson, who has promised to throw the ball down field more than his predecessor.

"That's how he's prepared and now he's got some opportunities in the preseason. I don't think it changes anything that he's been doing. He just gets more turns now that Jeff is out."

Erickson and his staff will also keep a close eye on their kickoff returns. Last year's returner, Jimmy Williams, is still slowed by injury and no leading candidate for the job has yet emerged.

Overall, Erickson said, he would focus on two things.

"First of all, we look at the execution of the first group and make sure they get better," he said. "Are they executing well in the time that they are in there?

"Secondly, and probably most importantly, is the evaluation of the other players on this football team. What is going to be the make up of our 53-man roster? There is some competition out there for 15 or 20 spots, at least."

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