Holmes out for season due to helmet-to-helmet hit

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- 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 Bowler whose 66 touchdowns between
2002-2004 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 Wednesday.

Injuries have caused Holmes, the Chiefs' career rushing leader,
to cut short two of his last three 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 over
Washington on Oct. 16.

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

The Chiefs will now turn to Holmes' backup, Larry Johnson, who
has averaged 5.2 yards per carry, with 506 yards on 97 attempts.
Johnson had two touchdowns in the 27-23 victory Sunday over
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 last week's game against Oakland 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 Wednesday, the team denied the injury would lead to
Holmes' retirement. Television station KSHB reported Wednesday 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 Thursday.

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."