Chiefs still unsure when Holmes will return

Updated: November 8, 2005, 6:27 PM ET
Associated Press

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Chiefs still don't know when Priest Holmes will be able to return to the field.

Holmes sustained a mild concussion at San Diego on Oct. 30 and was held out of Sunday's 27-23 victory over Oakland. He was in Miami on Tuesday getting a third opinion after seeing a specialist in California last week, and was expected to return to Kansas City on Tuesday night.

"I don't have any information," coach Dick Vermeil said. "In fact, sometimes I get upset because I don't have more information. But the information and communication system is in the right hands."

When the three-time Pro Bowl running back is cleared to play again, it will be as the Chiefs' starter -- even though Larry Johnson has both of Kansas City's 100-yard rushing games this year.

Johnson ran for 107 yards against Oakland and scored the game-winning touchdown on a 1-yard leap as time ran out. He set up that score with a 36-yard catch-and-run play to the Raiders 1-yard line.

For all that, though, Vermeil wants Holmes back as soon as possible -- especially with the Chiefs (5-3) suiting up three backs against the Raiders. Two -- Tony Richardson and Ronnie Cruz -- are fullbacks.

Although the Chiefs could go with Johnson as their halfback again Sunday against Buffalo, Vermeil said, "I'm hoping that doesn't happen. We know how talented he is, but we know we need two good running backs."

Vermeil, who had been using Holmes in two of every three offensive rotations, left no doubt as to his preference for the veteran.

"If you want to base it on merit, you have to look at everything Priest Holmes has done," Vermeil said. "His numbers have been the best in the NFL."

In the past, yes. But Holmes, who won the NFL rushing title in 2001 and was leading the league at midseason last year when he went down with a knee injury, ranks behind Johnson this year in yards per carry and yards per catch.

Holmes has 119 rushing attempts for 451 yards, an average of 3.8 yards per carry, and 21 receptions for 197 yards, an average of 9.4 yards per catch.

Johnson averages 5.2 yards per carry, with 506 yards on 97 attempts, and his nine catches for 115 yards give him an average of 12.8 yards per reception.

A good deal of Holmes' offensive style is predicated on getting to the outside, though, and Kansas City has been without Pro Bowl left tackle Willie Roaf for four games this year because of a recurring hamstring injury.

"We haven't had Willie Roaf, and all these things that make [Holmes'] numbers more impressive," Vermeil said. "But he's had some long runs, some 60-yard gains off screens. ... He's been Priest Holmes."

Roaf also missed Sunday's game against Oakland, and Vermeil didn't say whether he expected Roaf to return against Buffalo.

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press