Holmes earns offensive honors

The Kansas City running back was named the NFL's offensive player of the year.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Priest Holmes is a thinking man's running back.
Honored Thursday as The Associated Press Offensive Player of the Year, the Kansas City star wants to know what the Chiefs' linemen are doing on every play.
Not just blocking assignments, but which direction they're going to take their man, and the footwork and timing they'll use.
If, say, the left tackle's right hand is sore, Priest wants to know. It might make a difference on which way he cuts.
"That's very unusual," said left guard Brian Waters. "Most running backs just take the ball and run to daylight, even the good ones. But that doesn't always work because there can be tacklers converging that the running back can't see.
"But Priest knows every time what everybody is trying to do. It's a big part of his success."
If not for a painful hip injury that caused Kansas City's undersized back to miss the last two games, Holmes probably would have had one of the greatest seasons in NFL history, a year to end all years by any standard for a running back.
He had led the league in rushing in 2001. And when he was pulled down awkwardly from behind after a 56-yard run in Denver in the 14th game of this season, he was leading it again, with 1,615 yards rushing and 2,287 yards from scrimmage.
By scoring a touchdown in 11 straight games, he tied the NFL record set almost 40 years earlier by Hall of Famer Lenny Moore. Holmes was two touchdowns short of the NFL record and 142 yards from scrimmage from smashing another NFL record.
But he got up slowly and told coach Dick Vermeil he was done for the day. As it turned out, the 5-foot-9, 205-pound Holmes was done for the season. But voters judged that what he'd accomplished in 14 games was greater than what any other offensive player had achieved in 16.
He received 201/2 votes from a panel of writers and broadcasters who cover the NFL.
"After I missed the last two games, I wasn't even thinking about any honors or awards or anything," Holmes said Thursday. "I really appreciate this.
"But I'm grateful to my offensive line and coaches more than anything for what they did for me."
Vermeil was a big reason Holmes decided to sign with the Chiefs as a free agent after the 2000 season.
"He called me personally and we talked," Holmes said. "I thought that meant a lot."
Holmes has made a huge impression on his coach.
"It's nice to know his performance is being recognized," Vermeil said. "His performance on the field on game day is only a reflection of what he's about every day. It's hard even for me to get him to talk about himself. And it's not an artificial humbleness. That's really just the way he is."
Record-setting receiver Marvin Harrison of Indianapolis was second with 141/2 votes. Harrison smashed the NFL mark for receptions in a season with 143, 20 more than the previous record.

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