Wait And See

Warpaint Illustrated Beat Writer
Posted Jul 30, 2007

Chiefs running back Priest Holmes is back in River Falls, making his triumphant return after battling back from a severe neck injury two seasons ago.


Is this good news for the Chiefs? Absolutely. If Holmes is even close to the player he was two years ago, he’ll give head coach Herm Edwards a major league changeup to throw at defenses after Larry Johnson’s heater. The Chiefs ran the heck out of Johnson last year, and adding another back to the stable, particularly of Holmes’ caliber, only helps save him for the end of this season and lengthens his career.

Only problem? That’s a big if.

While I’m never willing to write Holmes off, the reality is that he apparently hasn’t been healthy enough to even approach Arrowhead Stadium. I’m not exactly betting the farm that he’s going to able to make it back on the field. As excited as everyone else is to see him run around, we’re not going to know until he makes it to the practice field. With contact.

Of course, Holmes has been written off before, and every time he’s been challenged on a football field he’s recovered. When Holmes blew out his knee in college, he came back as an un-drafted free agent and made it in the NFL. When he got dumped by the Ravens after another knee injury, Holmes landed with the Chiefs and led the NFL in rushing. When he suffered a severe hip injury, he came back to break the NFL’s touchdown record.

“He’s a mentally tough guy, I know that,” said Edwards in Wisconsin this past week. “He’s gone through some things in his career that he’s overcome.”

Still, you can’t help but wonder if this is the final chapter in Holmes’ career. Injuries and time have a way of catching up to a player and two years is a lot of rust. Until Holmes proves he can shake it off, there’s not a lot to get excited about.

But Holmes believes he can come back and be a factor for this Chiefs team. The guy’s always been a competitor, and physical limitations aside, thinks he’s got the got the key to his eventual success.

“Mental preparation is the biggest key,” said Holmes on Sunday. “It’s never been physical with me; it’s always been mental. I think if you can actually believe it in your heart definitely the body can achieve it. If you have the necessary tools and help you can definitely accomplish that. With Dave Price, our head trainer, and our strength and conditioning coach, Cedric [Smith], they’re definitely going to help prepare me to be on the level that I need to be on in order to return and take any kind of hit.”

Pretty soon, we’ll find out, but until then, I’m not getting too excited.

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