Archive for Sunday, August 7, 2005

Backs Holmes, Johnson to split time for Chiefs

August 7, 2005

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— Priest Holmes doesn't seem to have a jealous bone in his muscular body.

Doesn't Kansas City's three-time Pro Bowl running back understand that aging superstars are supposed to yield ground only grudgingly to youthful rivals?

Apparently not. Larry Johnson is getting about as many carries as Holmes during the Chiefs' two-a-day practices. Once the regular season begins, he figures to claim a much bigger share of the load than he ever has had.

And Holmes, the most productive running back in Chiefs history, sounds almost as though he's the one who came up with the idea.

"I think it's absolutely important to get Larry (more involved)," Holmes said. "I think it would make our team stronger."

Holmes was on the sideline last year, missing the last eight games because of a knee injury, when Johnson emerged as a bona fide threat. Finally given the playing time he had been clamoring for, the second-year pro rolled up 541 yards rushing and nine touchdowns. Three times, he went over 100 yards rushing.


Kansas City running back Priest Holmes, left, takes off morning practice, as he has done throughout preseason training camp. Holmes watched Saturday's practice in River Falls, Wis., with fullback Tony Richardson.

Kansas City running back Priest Holmes, left, takes off morning practice, as he has done throughout preseason training camp. Holmes watched Saturday's practice in River Falls, Wis., with fullback Tony Richardson.

Now Holmes is back in full health, and Johnson has returned to the second team. But running the ball at Arrowhead Stadium this fall will be more of a two-man operation than ever before.

"That's someone who's vital in terms of what our offense can use," Holmes said.

Holmes will turn 32 in October, an advanced age for somebody who has spent eight years absorbing the pounding NFL tacklers routinely dish out. But like many of the Chiefs' vintage mainstays, he has been practicing only once a day, and it seems to help.

"My body feels good," he said. "But I can definitely say that if I was practicing twice a day, it probably would not feel as good as it does now."

Could sharing time with Johnson extend his career?

"I don't think it will extend it," he said. "Once it's time for my career to end, it will end, regardless of another person being able to take some of the reps. But in terms of making it to the Super Bowl and being a contender, I really think that adding him and also the defensive players we've added is really going to make our team stronger."


Kansas City Chiefs running back Priest Holmes breaks free for a run to the end zone during afternoon practice. As usual, Holmes sat out Saturday's morning session in River Falls, Wis.

Kansas City Chiefs running back Priest Holmes breaks free for a run to the end zone during afternoon practice. As usual, Holmes sat out Saturday's morning session in River Falls, Wis.

For the past three seasons, there has not been a more productive running back in the NFL than Holmes, who joined the Chiefs as an unheralded unrestricted free agent from Baltimore in 2001. He scored 66 touchdowns from 2002-04, an NFL record for any three-year span.

He was leading the league with 833 yards rushing and 84 points scored when he went down at the season's midway point in 2004. He already has established team records with 5,482 yards rushing and 7,645 yards from scrimmage.

But he and the Chiefs never have reached their Super Bowl goal. Only once in his time in Kansas City, in 2003, have they made the postseason at all.

If sharing more time with Johnson will get him to a championship, Holmes is all for it.

"I think for me it's just wanting to win," he said. "I'm used to winning. I'm used to being next to a team that has so many outstanding players. To be able to do some of the things we've done and not be able to finish on top is very disappointing."

Quarterback Trent Green is on board with the new plan.

"Hopefully, Larry's role in the offense this season is the same and even more," Green said. "It's clear Priest is going to be the starter. But I think we'll be able to rotate the two of them and take some of the pressure off Priest."

As long as Dick Vermeil is the head coach, however, there'll be no mistaking who is No. 1.

"Priest Holmes is our starting running back, and Larry Johnson is his backup," Vermeil said. "They'll both play. Throughout Priest's career he's been go-go-go, then he needs a blow and comes out."

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