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Spinal injury ends season for Chiefs RB Holmes

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (Nov. 9, 2005) -- Kansas City Chiefs running back Priest Holmes will miss the rest of the season because of the lingering effects of a helmet-to-helmet hit.

Holmes, 32, a three-time Pro Bowl performer whose 66 touchdowns between 2002-04 are an NFL record for any three-year span, was injured Oct. 30 during the Chiefs' loss at San Diego. He was placed on injured reserve.

Injuries have caused Holmes, the Chiefs' career rushing leader, to cut short his past two seasons. But he has shown flashes of his old self while rushing for 451 yards and six touchdowns on 119 carries. He also has 21 catches for 197 yards, including a 60-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown in a victory against Washington on Oct. 16.

"We're going to miss him," coach Dick Vermeil said. "He's more than a football player for this organization."

"Priest Holmes has been an outstanding football player and outstanding person for the Chiefs in Kansas City," team president Carl Peterson said.

The Chiefs will now turn to Holmes' backup, Larry Johnson, who has gained 5.2 yards per carry, with 506 yards on 97 attempts. Johnson had two touchdowns Nov. 6 in the 27-23 victory against Oakland, including a 1-yard vault on the final play of the game. He has frequently complained he was not being given enough carries.

"Larry Johnson has already carried the load. He knows he can do it," Vermeil said. "He just doesn't have a Priest Holmes backing him up like he backed up Priest Holmes."

Holmes missed the Raiders game and in the past two weeks has seen spinal-injury specialists in California and Florida. Speculation had been rampant he would be out for an extended period, although the Chiefs (5-3) said they were hopeful he would soon return to the lineup.

Earlier, the team denied the injury would lead to Holmes' retirement. Television station KSHB reported that doctors found a lump on Holmes' spine and were concerned about possible paralysis should he take a direct hit. Citing a highly placed source it didn't identify, the station said Holmes could announce his retirement as soon as Nov. 10.

But both the team and an employee at the firm run by Holmes' agent, Todd France, rejected suggestions Holmes would retire because of the injury.

"All the speculation, television, the media throwing things out all shook him up," Vermeil said of Holmes. "Someone said he had a tumor on his spine. He thought it was very unfair."

AP NEWS
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