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Chiefs GM counting Holmes 'in' for next season

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (April 20, 2006) -- With an NFL draft full of tantalizing young players looming, Kansas City Chiefs general manager Carl Peterson turned his attention to a veteran.

Peterson said he is counting Priest Holmes "in" for next season, as the three-time Pro Bowl running back continues to recover from midseason surgery for head and neck trauma.

"If we had to start today, right now, the doctor would not clear him for contact," Peterson said. "But we don't have to start today."

Holmes, who was injured last October against San Diego, is continuing to work out at his home in Texas, just as he has the past three offseasons. Peterson said doctors will evaluate him again soon, and new coach Herman Edwards said he hopes Holmes will be able to return.

Although they have more pressing needs at cornerback and defensive end, Holmes' status may not preclude the Chiefs from drafting a running back in a later round if the timing is right.

In 2003, the Chiefs took Larry Johnson in the first round, despite Holmes seemingly entrenched at running back. Three years later, the Penn State product emerged as one of the NFL's brightest young stars.

Johnson rushed for more than 100 yards in each of his nine starts after Holmes' injury, racking up 1,750 yards and scoring 20 touchdowns. It was enough that one of Edwards' first moves with the Chiefs was to name Johnson the starting running back entering fall camp.

"Priest knows that," Edwards said. "Everybody knows that."

But Edwards also noted that many of Johnson's yards came as he simply ran over defenders, a tactic that might wear him down over a full season.

That's why Edwards is eagerly awaiting Holmes' decision. The Chiefs have signed former Denver Broncos running back Quentin Griffin, but have very little depth beyond that. They also lost Tony Richardson, one of the best blocking fullbacks in the league, to free agency.

"I don't care what back it is, he's not going to carry the ball 500 times. You can figure out the rest mathematically," Edwards said. "You're going to have at least two backs."

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