Priest Preaches to Peterson

Kansas City running back Priest Holmes seems to have turned into something of an Adrian Peterson fan, and given the opportunity Saturday night at a practice against the Vikings, Holmes had a few points of advice for Peterson. Go in-depth and see what Holmes and fullback Tony Richardson had to say to Peterson and about the electrifying rookie.

Priest Holmes just might know a thing or two about being a running back in the NFL.

Holmes has been in the league since 1997 and started to prove his wares the following season with the Baltimore Ravens. But when the Ravens hitched their tail feathers to Jamaal Lewis and Holmes flew to Kansas City in 2001, he began to flourish as the feature back.

Yet, for all of his success in the NFL, when the San Antonio native had a chance to give professional advice to another star running back from Texas, he didn't hesitate to introduce himself to rookie Adrian Peterson on Saturday night when the two were in River Falls, Wis., for a Chiefs-Vikings practice.

"Coming from Texas, we always know about the running backs, the younger guys that are coming out. We're always pushing for them, always waiting for them to get into college and have that success and get into the league," Holmes said of Peterson. "I had a chance to talk his mother right when he was coming out. He had a lot of people in his ear – should he stay in college, should he leave? He had a couple injuries or whatnot, but I gave his mother encouraging words and she passed them on to him.

"It was my first time getting to see him face to face on the field (Saturday night) and, like I told him – assignment, alignment, technique. If a player can grasp those fundamentals and come out here to practice – you're going to be tired, you're going to be hurt, you're going to be deprived of sleep, you're going to miss your family. Outside of all those things, those are the three things to focus on. If he focuses on all of them, he'll be just fine. He's a Texas guy and I just got inducted into the High School Hall of Fame and I didn't realize how many good running backs come out of the state of Texas. He's another back that we'll be putting up on the wall also."

That's big praise from Holmes, who put up 2,031 yards rushing and 26 touchdowns as a senior at Marshall High School in San Antonio.

While Peterson went from National Player of the Year at Palestine (Texas) High and also broke the 2,000-yard mark as a senior with 32 touchdowns, he played college ball at Oklahoma while Holmes, 12 years his senior, played at the University of Texas.

But that college rivalry isn't standing in the way of Holmes dishing out the praise for Peterson.

"God-given talent? He has speed, power, he has a good frame – a very, very, very long frame with a lot of muscle, a lot of strength added onto him," Holmes said. "A lot of things he'll develop in a short period of time in the next four weeks – how to be a professional. One of those things is going to the weight room, hitting your weights, coming outside and making sure you're doing your assignment right and then learning in the classroom. But then having T-Rich (fullback Tony Richardson) is one of the good things, just like I had – a guy that was a few years older than me that I could look up to."

Richardson played 11 years with Kansas City before joining the Vikings as an unrestricted free agent in 2006. For five of those years, Richardson blocked for Holmes, which happened to be Holmes' most productive years in the NFL as well.

He earned Pro Bowl and All-Pro honors in each of the 2001, 2002 and 2003 seasons, and during Richardson and Holmes' time together, the tailback averaged 97.3 rushing yards per game and an NFL-best 136 scrimmage yards per game during that time span. So it would seem Richardson also has an eye for talent.

"As a young player, everything is not going to be perfect, and that's what I told (Peterson)," Richardson said after Peterson's appearance in Saturday night's practice against the Chiefs. "Don't try to make everything perfect because it's not going to be. He's still learning everyday and still improving in his game. He's very impressive and obviously you know he has all the skill sets."

Peterson began to display his speed earlier last week in practices in Mankato after signing a five-year, $40.5 million contract. But he suffered a hip pointer Thursday morning and didn't practice Thursday afternoon or Friday night against the Chiefs.

So Holmes believed there was another point of emphasis he could have for the No. 7 overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft.

"The first thing when I walked up to him, I said, ‘You've got to play through that, that's just a part of the game," Holmes said. "You can ask T-Rich, you can ask myself – on Sunday, most of the guys are at about 75 percent. Rarely will you see a guy at 100 percent. If you do have a guy at 100 percent, that's the guy that didn't play the last three weeks and now he's getting a chance to start because somebody's hurt. I think as far as the injury, it's one of those transition periods, where a guy is coming out of college he has to understand that having that perfect body that you once had in high school doesn't exist anymore. Now it's a business. Now it's about being a professional. Despite how you feel, just get out there and go to work."

Taking that next step to practice and play through pain is more of a mental challenge than physical one, according to Holmes.

"It's more mental. They have a phrase, ‘The game is to be sold, not to be told.' There is nothing I can really tell him that I can prepare him," Holmes said. "He has to come out here, get the bumps and bruises, the hip pointers, get the hamstring pulls. OK, get it again, get another hamstring pull. When you keep getting them, you'll start learning, ‘OK, how do I play with this and how do I play without this? How do I avoid this and how do I continue to play if I have this?'"

With Peterson's injury history in college – he missed four games in 2005 and seven in 2006 because of injuries – some believe that his 6-foot-1 stature sets him up for more injuries in the NFL.

"Some could say that, but I know T-Rich is there and he's a great mentor that is actually going to guide him in the right direction," Holmes said. "As a guy coming out of Texas, whether you like to lift weights or not, you're going learn how to. The first three or four years of your career, you should be in the weight room because then as you start to progress into your sixth, seventh, eighth, it's now mental."

"I think Priest summed it up," Richardson said. "Priest told (Peterson) as a running back you just have to get used to playing with pain. That's what it's all about. You're body is never going to feel right again, probably until the offseason, and I think Priest gave him some great advice. He said you just have to fight through the pain and work hard. That's what being a professional is about and I know that he understands that."

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