After 'dinging' his previously injured neck, Holmes might be done

Four-time Pro Bowl tailback Priest Holmes, who returned to the field with the Kansas City Chiefs last month following nearly two years of inactivity, is considering retirement after re-injuring his neck in last Sunday's 13-10 loss to the Indianapolis Colts.

Holmes, 34, has spent the past few days counseling with family members and friends and speaking with medical experts, two sources close to him told ESPN.com on Tuesday night. He is expected to reach a decision on his future shortly.

ESPN.com's John Clayton reported Chiefs team president Carl Peterson told Holmes to go home Tuesday and to take the night to sleep on his decision. According to a source, it wasn't that Holmes re-injured his neck as much as he experienced a recurrence of the symptoms that led to his 18-month layoff.

A league source said that Holmes could make an announcement on his plans as early as Wednesday. "He's sorting through some things, but is pretty close now to a resolution," a source said. "It won't drag out."

An unidentified source told NFL.com on Tuesday night that Holmes was "retiring for sure" at a noon (CT) press conference, but the Chiefs told the Web site that the running back has not made up his mind.

Foxsports.com first reported earlier Tuesday that Holmes had suffered another neck injury that threatened his career.

Chiefs coach Herm Edwards acknowledged to Clayton that Holmes had been injured. The coach told The Kansas City Star that he was aware of the Foxsports.com report and conceded that Holmes had been "dinged" in the game and said the condition of the 11-year veteran was being evaluated.

Holmes originally suffered severe head and neck trauma in an Oct. 30, 2005 game against the San Diego Chargers. He has spent nearly two years recovering from the injuries and most league observers felt that Holmes would never play again.

But he returned to the field in an Oct. 21 game against the Oakland Raiders and he has appeared in four games this season, rushing 46 times for 137 yards and catching five passes for seven yards. Holmes has not scored a touchdown.

In recent weeks his workload was increased because of a foot injury suffered by Chiefs' starter Larry Johnson. Because of the injury, Holmes started the past two games.

Holmes spent the final half of the 2005 season on injured reserve and the entire 2006 campaign on the NFL's physically unable to perform list. Because of the head and neck trauma, and a serious hip injury that threatened to end his career in 2004, Holmes has played in only 19 games since the end of the 2003 season.

He surprised even Kansas City officials by reporting to training camp this summer but began the drills on the physically unable to perform list, so he could not participate in any full-team segments of practice. At the conclusion of the preseason, the Chiefs placed Holmes on the non-football injury list, which meant he could not return until after the sixth week of the 2007 season.

Even then, there was considerable skepticism that Holmes would ever play again. But Holmes began practicing on Oct. 17, and was activated for the game against the Raiders just four days later.

"In my opinion, he's about as good as he's going to get," Edwards said at the time. "The only thing you don't know is when he gets tackled and he hits the ground, can he hold onto the football? He hasn't had any contact. … He's been knocked around in practice, but he hasn't had any contact. He's done everything you can do, except play."

The Kansas City franchise's all-time leader in total touchdowns (83) and rushing touchdowns (76), Holmes set a then-league record by scoring 27 times in 2003. That record has since been broken.

In 106 appearances, Holmes has carried 1,780 times for 8,172 yards and 86 touchdowns. One of the NFL's premier all-around backs in his prime, the former University of Texas star also has 339 receptions for 2,962 yards and eight touchdowns. He has posted four seasons with 1,000 yards rushing, including three years with more than 1,400 yards.

Holmes began his career with the Baltimore Ravens as an undrafted college free agent in 1998, and signed with the Chiefs as an unrestricted free agent in 2001.

If Holmes does retire, it will leave the Chiefs perilously thin at tailback. Johnson will miss a third straight game on Sunday with a foot injury that might sideline him the rest of season. The only other tailback on the roster is rookie Kolby Smith, a fifth-round draft choice from Louisville who has carried just 10 times for 19 yards.

Senior writers Len Pasquarelli and John Clayton cover the NFL for ESPN.com.