Holmes Ready to Chew Up Bucs Defense

Today Priest Holmes returned to the practice field after missing Wednesday's practice because of numerous aches and pains. I asked Priest about the toll this season has taken on his body.

"I don't feel good until Saturday. That's just how my body works. That's how it's adapted. Earlier in my career, I was feeling good by mid-week. It's not like that anymore."

Holmes was named AFC Player of the Month for October. Over the past four games Holmes tallied 482 rushing yards, averaging 4.5 yards per carry. Priest also scored 10 touchdowns and caught 10 passes for 170 yards.

Holmes' backup, Derrick Blaylock began to practice today, but had to sit out because of a thigh injury. Head Coach Dick Vermeil says Blaylock is questionable with a chance to play. Larry Johnson took Blaylock's carries for the rest of practice.

Later in the day, the focus turned back to Holmes. I asked Vermeil about his star running back, and the time it takes for Priest to recover from a game. Vermeil told me, "I've coached a number of running backs. Each back is a little bit different. I remember Priest's first year here and it didn't affect him as much. He's carrying the ball a little bit more so it's bound to affect you some. I'm not concerned about him getting to many touches. He gets better the more he touches it."

Vermeil touched on the status of Cornerback Dexter McCleon, who has missed time with a hamstring injury. "I don't know where he is (health-wise). I haven't talked to the trainers since practice ended. He was about 70% yesterday", says Vermeil.

After practice linebacker Scott Fujita was sitting by his locker cutting the tape off his shoes. The question I posed was whether or not the defense feels there has been a marked improvement in their play compared to Week One.

"Just look at the last five weeks and nobody can run the ball on us. This is the type of defense that is built around stopping the run. People are going to get passing yards on us. That's not acceptable but we are built to stop the run. Last week the Colts ran for 33 yards on us. You can't beat that", said Fujita.

It is true that the defense did stop the run last week, but let's face it, 33 rushing yards doesn't make up for 472 passing yards against. This weeks test is not as great; in total offense, Tampa Bay ranks 12th in the NFC.

Fujita leads the team in tackles (45) and tackles for loss (7).

Trent Green is completing 65% of his passes on third down. His 116 Quarterback rating on third down is tops in the AFC. Priest Holmes is 5-5 in converting third-and-one situations this season.

Buccaneers Kickoff Returner Torrie Cox leads the NFL in return average at 28.9 yards per return.

Chiefs rookie Defensive End Jared Allen has as many sacks as Tampa Bay's perennial Pro-Bowl Linebacker Simeon Rice. Both Rice and Allen have tallied four a piece. By the way, Rice is just three sacks shy of 100 for his career.

Bucs Head Coach John Gruden has won five straight games over the Chiefs. He has beaten Dick Vermeil both times they've met. Gruden's wins over Vermeil came when "Chuckie" was the Head Coach of the Oakland Raiders.

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