RIVER FALLS, WIS. Priest Holmes sat out Tuesday's practice because of a hip problem.
Those two words -- "hip problem" -- would have spread panic through the Kansas City Chiefs camp a year ago.
But this year, nobody is sweating. The All-Pro running back is more than a year removed from the surgery on his right hip that many feared could end his career.
"His hip got tired on him, and he just sort of ran out of gas and got weak," coach Dick Vermeil said after the morning workout. "He just backed down and probably won't practice tonight."
Instead of quitting after surgery, Holmes led the Chiefs to a 13-3 record, scoring a league-record 27 touchdowns. An offseason workout program has brought him back for his eighth season feeling friskier than he's felt in three years.
"This is my second camp since the hip injury. I know that just by the accumulation of practice time it's going to get sore and fatigue," he said.
Holmes has new goals.
"Last year the motivation was a lot different -- more personal of getting back on the field and not letting my teammates down," he said. "Now it's about winning the championship. I think we have every component we need to get to (the Super Bowl)."
Although he got off to a slow start last year as the hip gained strength, Holmes still ran for 1,420 yards. That was down from the 1,615 yards rushing in had in 14 games the season before, when the injury shelved him for the final two games.
Now, back to full strength and running behind one of the NFL's finest offensive lines, the Chiefs hope their three-time All-Pro is headed for a monster season. At 31, he's still got youth on his side.
Another reason to keep playing was his father, Army Sgt. Herman Morris. A supply sergeant in Iraq, Morris will be there until January.
"On Sundays, he's going to get a chance to be in the tent and sit around with all those guys watching football," Holmes said. "What better way for him being that far away and be able to still see me?"