Thursday, August 09, 2007

Who Will Be Running in Kansas City? [Michael Vinciguerra]

All-Pro RB Larry Johnson is currently on holdout for the starting position on the Kansas City Chiefs. Three-time pro bowler Priest Holmes, who has not played football since 2005 as a result of what many called a career ending injury, has returned from intense rehab and made a statement challenging Larry Johnson. The bottom line is if Johnson does not want the starting role, Holmes will gladly fill his shoes.

Johnson has been a no-show at camp as he seeks an extension to the seven-year contract he inked in 2003, which he can void down to a five-year deal after the final game of the 2007 season because of playing time incentives.

The Chiefs, however, have other ideas. If anything, they plan to utilize Holmes solely as a situational back and I can completely agree with their decision. After all, he is still on the physically unable to perform list. Even though he returned to the practice field wearing pads, took handoffs, and absorbed hits, does Holmes honestly expect coach Herm Edwards to give him the starting position that easily? Well, according to Herm Edwards, ""If he's able to come back, he understands and accepts the fact that he would have a different role than when he was the starter."

The injury Holmes suffered came from a horrific tackle by San Diego's Shawne Merriman. Holmes was left with head and neck trauma and the possibility of paralysis still lingers to this day. Holmes claims this injury has made him stronger and "this is about perseverance and having a great story to tell."

One of the NFL's top runners until his injury, Holmes rushed for a team-record 5,933 yards after signing as an unrestricted free agent in 2001. He scored 27 touchdowns in 2003, then an NFL record.

At the start of this season, I can say with confidence Holmes will not be the starting RB for the Kansas City Chiefs, despite whether Larry Johnson returns or not. If Herm Edwards did start Holmes, he would be risking losing his RB to injury with every handoff, or even worse, Holmes could be putting himself at risk of further damage. A third down or situational back fits Holmes fine.

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