Retirement News Leads Wednesday Headlines

Last night NBC Action News reported that running back Priest Holmes is going to retire. Shawn Barber is heading back to the practice field and Ryan Sims continues to make progress. Warpaint Illustrated offers up analysis on some of the potential changes happening today at One Arrowhead Drive.

The headline item of the day continues to be the rumor that All-Pro running back Priest Holmes is contemplating retiring. According to numerous reports around the organization and the Holmes family, the Chiefs starting running back has gone through extensive tests to determine if he is at any risk if he resumes playing football.

According to a report that has circulated from people allegedly close to his family, Holmes has a knot on the back of his spine that has everyone concerned about his health. It's been reported that Holmes would make a final decision on Wednesday afternoon once he has received all the test results. Once that happens, Holmes will talk with Chiefs Head Coach Dick Vermeil. If Holmes decides to hang it up, then that announcement could come as early as tomorrow according to the TV report. However, Warpaint Illustrated has not been able to confirm the validity of the report.

Earlier this morning his agent Todd France has denied the fact that his client is contemplating quitting the game of football.

In yesterday afternoon's weekly press conference with the media, Vermeil was very emphatic that he didn't know anything about the future of his star running back. Still he believes that Holmes is far too valuable to this offense and despite the success of Larry Johnson, Vermeil has no plans to alter the Chiefs running back rotation.

Obviously if Holmes calls it quits then Vermeil will finally have to give the running back reigns to Larry Johnson. There seems to be a lot of sentiment in the locker room that Johnson should start. Some players have privately mumbled that this offense is at its best with Johnson. It's obvious he's the only true homerun threat on offense.

Johnson proved last Sunday that he can make plays in crunch time with the game and the season on the line. His catch and run at the end of the Raiders game proved that his on the verge of NFL superstardom. The only one who seems to have reservations about that is Vermeil.

President Carl Peterson indicated after Sunday's game that he expected Johnson to get more carries but Vermeil was adamant yesterday in his press conference indicated that the 2 for 1 rotation would continue. That's not a good sign for this offense.

Johnson clearly gives the offense a spark and if this team is going to make a second half run for the division title, in my opinion Johnson needs to get the majority of the carries. Holmes lack of durability has brought to light that his best days of football are in the past.

Even further a Chiefs official told Warpaint Illustrated yesterday that the team is not planning on Holmes playing next season. Even further the process has begun to look over the practice squads of the 31 other NFL teams to find another running back in the event Holmes is unavailable this season.

Kansas City is also looking at what current free agent running backs might be available to be a back up to Larry Johnson. One player the Chiefs had hoped to bring back was Sam Gado but he was activated off the Green Bay Packers practice squad and is now their property.

Regardless of what has been reported nothing is concrete but we expect some sort of confirmation either way within the next 24-48 hours.

In other Chiefs news, linebacker Shawn Barber will return to full contact practice on Wednesday afternoon. Barber who was hurt one year ago in Tampa Bay has been cleared by team doctors to return to the practice field. The Chiefs depth at linebacker could get a bolster from Barber who would replace the expected contributions of Keyaron Fox. Fox was injured in week two against the Oakland Raiders and was placed on injured reserve.

It's likely the Chiefs put Fox on that list because they felt that Barber could make a successful return from double knee surgery. The Chiefs have a lot of money invested in Barber and it's likely he could be a player that this organization gives up on before the start of free agency next March.

However the potential release of Barber could indeed by facilitated by the progress of linebacker Kendrell Bell. The former Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker has been hamstrung in the Chiefs defense this season. Bell has not been allowed to use his speed and attack the ball carrier like he was accustomed to doing in the Steel City. Instead Bell has been used far more in pass coverage negating his speed.

Once the Chiefs can get their starting cornerbacks on the field, the real Bell should be unleashed. There appears to be little question that he's battling injuries and only needs to be allowed to use his true skills. Hopefully that happens soon.

This defense is only going to reach its potential if its linebacking crew is allowed to blitz the quarterback. When that happens this defense could be special, in fact, very special the second half of the season.

This defense could get another boost if defensive tackle Ryan Sims returns to the team. According to Sims, he's going to play again this season. From all accounts he's made remarkable progress and could return the first week of December.

Sims is jogging again and could start running next week. Vermeil indicated that he has made progress but would not speculate if he'd be back for Game 10 or Game 16.

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