Coach Dick Vermeil stopped just short of saying Holmes would definitely be out, but the league’s leading rusher and scorer was on crutches after straining a medical collateral ligament in his right knee during Sunday’s 34-31 loss to Tampa Bay.
None of his teammates expected him to play, and Holmes, who leads the league with 892 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns, will be tough to replace.
“There’s not another Priest Holmes in the National Football League,” fullback Tony Richardson said. “When a guy like that goes down it forces all of us to pick our level of play up.”
If Holmes can’t play Sunday, the Chiefs will start Derrick Blaylock in his place. Blaylock, out last week with a deep thigh bruise, practiced at full speed for the first time Wednesday. When Holmes left early in the third quarter against Atlanta on Oct. 24, Blaylock came in and ran for four touchdowns.
“Can Derrick Blaylock be Priest Holmes? No,” Richardson said. “But can Derrick be Derrick Blaylock? Yeah. He can go out and do a great job, and Larry Johnson can go out and do a great job.”
The Chiefs’ offense has been stellar of late, racking up 132 points over the last three weeks. Kansas City should have no problem against a New Orleans defense that is last in the NFL. The Saints have dropped four of five, including Sunday’s 43-17 rout at San Diego.
“If we really care about our jobs, really care about what we do, we’ll find a way to make this season a productive season,” quarterback Aaron Brooks said. “Will we go 11-5? We don’t know. We know we won’t be 12-4 or better. Deep down inside we got to find a way to make this season a productive one.”
Recent history suggests otherwise as the Saints are 27-29 since last making the playoffs in 2001.
“It’s tough,” New Orleans coach Jim Haslett said of the losing. “It’s tough on everybody, but that’s the National Football League. I can handle it.”
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