PRIEST HOLMES UPDATE
Priest Holmes' stock is rising. He's been running for two months, and now he's doing drills that include dragging around a golf cart. Dick Vermeil says the team will place no restrictions on the type of work and drills in which Holmes participates. Nevertheless, the team will start off cautiously, limiting the All-Pro running back's work. Holmes will be allowed to do everything, and might even play in the first exhibition.
It's too early to officially declare Holmes' hip a non-issue, but we're moving in that direction. We've elevated him to the No. 8 spot among running backs, right behind the seven backs who appear to be safe bets to put up big numbers. Those eight players also represent the top eight players on the board, in our opinion, before it finally makes sense to select a player (Marvin Harrison) from another position.
There are still issues with Holmes. The hip injury restricted his ability to work out in the offseason, so he might not have the same burst and power. He's also angling to receive a mega contract. The team, however, is reluctant to commit big money to a back who turns 30 in October. GM Carl Peterson says the team won't give Holmes a new contract but is willing to talk about an extension -- but only after it's certain he's healthy. Holmes, in turn, says he might walk out if he doesn't get the money he wants.
It also remains possible -- perhaps probable -- that Holmes will handle the ball less often. He was badly overworked last season, averaging 27 touches per game. It's hard to imagine Kansas City would ask Holmes to carry that kind of load again this season, especially when he's coming off an injury. At a mid-July press conference Holmes said he felt he was overworked last season. Two years ago, Kansas City replaced Holmes in goal-line situations with fullback Tony Richardson.
Should Holmes miss any playing time, first-rounder Larry Johnson probably will take over. But that's not certain yet. Johnson hasn't been impressive in drills thus far, making it appear possible that Richardson or others could start or at least see significant playing time should Holmes get hurt. Johnson should move into that clear No. 2 spot by opening day -- at least he's signed -- but that remains to be seen.
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