Battle Heating Up for Holmes Back Up

As the battle for the number two running back position rages on, Derrick Blaylock had a breakout performance on Saturday Night against the Vikings.

While Dick Vermeil loved seeing Priest Holmes break off a couple of impressive runs against live competition, he's still concerned about keying in on a backup who can spell Holmes from time to time.

When camp opened, Vermeil let it be known that rookie first-round pick Larry Johnson would be in a fight with Derrick Blaylock and Jarmar Julien for that right.

Through three games, Vermeil is still looking.

Blaylock, now in his third season out of Stephen F. Austin, made a case for himself by gaining 48 yards on six carries Saturday night in a .26-16 win over Minnesota at Arrowhead. Best known as the back who clocked one of the fastest 40 times at the NFL combine when he came out, Blaylock has shown shiftiness, pass catching ability and speed thus far in the preseason.

"It felt good to hit a couple of good runs tonight," said Blaylock. "With our line, there are opportunities out there."

Johnson saw action in the second half and gained 26 yards on nine carries in addition to catching one pass for 11 yards. Julien, who suffered an ankle injury last week against San Francisco, did not get a carry.

Vermeil has made it known since draft day that Johnson would be brought along slowly. The Chiefs' offense has 15 different pass protections for running backs to learn in addition to hundreds of plays, and Johnson is experiencing typical rookie information overload.

"He's coming but he has a long ways to go," Vermeil said. "He has a lot to learn."

The three backs will continue to battle it out over the next two weeks in games at Seattle and at St. Louis. Fullbacks Tony Richardson, who has not played in the preseason due to a hand injury, and Omar Easy could get looks in the one-back set as well.

"We're still looking," Vermeil said. "The competition will continue in the next two games."

Competition will also continue at offensive tackle where the team is looking for a backup to Pro Bowl left tackle Willie Roaf and right tackle John Tait. Vermeil counted on Willie Jones filling that role but Jones may have to retire after suffering a neck injury -- his second in a 10-month period -- in the preseason opener against Green Bay.

Candidates include veteran Marcus Spears, rookie fourth-round pick Brett Williams and former Canadian Football Leaguer Garrick Jones.

"We need to find an answer there," Vermeil said. "One of those guys is going to have to step up and start playing like they want the job." Top Stories