As reported first on NFLGridironGab.com by columnist and Bearsgab.com Site Editor Russell Loede, RB Priest Holmes will make it to the back to the NFL playing on Sundays for the Kansas City Chiefs. The Kansas City Chiefs now have a quality backup if Larry Johnson decides to hold out. After missing all of last season with neck and shoulder injuries, three-time Pro Bowl running back, and former touchdown record holder Priest Holmes told the team Wednesday that he will be at training camp Saturday July 28. The Chiefs open camp at Rivers Falls, Wisconsin. (Why?)
Holmes, who will turn 34 this October, started last season on the physically-unable-to-perform list and never came off it. He missed the final nine games of the 2005 season due to neck and shoulder injuries, but has now passed a physical and is ready to work on football activities. “In my conversation with Priest, he was excited about playing,” Chiefs president Carl Peterson said. “Later, (coach) Herm (Edwards) and I sat down with Priest here in Kansas City and discussed his decision and our thoughts on his return. “We may put him on active PUP (physically unable to perform) initially to gauge his football conditioning to see how he feels after non-contact drills. But he indicated very strongly to me that he wanted to play and his motivation was to help the Kansas City Chiefs win a championship.”
From 2002-04, Holmes scored 66 total touchdowns, an NFL record for a three-year span. Signed in April 2001 after spending his first four seasons with Baltimore, Holmes rushed for 5,933 yards and 76 touchdowns in 61 games with the Chiefs. His 24 100-yard games match Johnson for the most in franchise history. Entering camp, K.C. has concerns if Johnson, who rushed for 1,789 yards and 17 touchdowns last season, will be there on time. He is certainly disappointed with his “small” contract. If Johnson is in camp, Edwards made it “crystal” clear that he would still be the starter. “The combination of Larry Johnson and Priest Holmes has previously proved very difficult to stop in the past,” Edwards said. “At this point, we need to proceed slowly to determine where is from a health and conditioning standpoint. Hopefully, he’s able to come back and continue his career with the Chiefs.
“I believe Priest Holmes is a team guy and has indicated to me his desire to help the team. If he’s able to come back, he understands and accepts the fact that he would have a different role than when he was a starter.” In addition to his rushing totals, Holmes also has caught 246 passes for 2,360 yards and seven touchdowns. Holmes might be the best pass-catching RB since Marshall Faulk, all the way going to back to the “Sweetness” days of Walter Payton – some might argue and dispute.Holmes has not played since Oct. 30, 2005, when he was injured from a hit by linebacker Shawne Merriman in a game at San Diego. The hit left him with head and neck trauma, diagnosed by three spinal specialists. “I have said many times that I would never count this player out like so many did after his hip surgery,” Peterson said, referring to an injury Holmes had in 2002 that prompted the Chiefs to take Larry Johnson with their first pick in the 2003 draft.
“He’s a very unique human being.” Peterson said the team would “take it slow” to see how well Holmes was doing, “but there’s no question that if Priest Holmes is close to what he was before his injury, he’ll make a significant impact on the offensive side of the football,” Peterson said. Holmes was cleared to play after being tested by the team’s orthopedic doctors in Miami, the team spokesman said. The 5-foot-9, 213-pound all-purpose threat spent 2006 on the physically unable to perform list. Since joining the Chiefs in 2001, Holmes ranks first in the NFL in the yards from scrimmage department, averaging close to 100 yards per game rushing (97.3) and 136 total yards, combining his receiving yard totals.