The Associated Press

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - New Kansas City Chiefs coach Herman Edwards is counting Priest Holmes in for next season, despite counting him out for minicamp.

Edwards told The Kansas City Star on Wednesday that the Chiefs' three-time Pro Bowl running back will not be with the team when it begins offseason practices in two weeks because he has not been medically cleared.

Holmes, 32, has been recovering from a helmet-to-helmet collision with the Chargers' Shawne Merriman during a midseason game in San Diego. He has been seeing a spinal specialist, Robert Watkins, and has been working out at his home in San Antonio during the offseason.

"I told him, 'Hey, when you get cleared, when you get ready in your mind to get back here, you need to be back here,' " Edwards said. "So there's no pressure on him by our people, by us, at all."

Holmes has remained mum about his chances to return next season. He was put on injured reserve in November and has been undergoing a battery of neurological tests and evaluations since.

General manager Carl Peterson said before the NFL draft that if Kansas City had to play a game, Holmes would not be cleared. "But we don't have to start today," he said, adding that doctors will evaluate Holmes again soon.

"I haven't really called (Priest) in a while, since he hasn't been cleared," Edwards said. "I would assume he'll probably show up sometime.

"People can interpret what they want. Until you hear it from Priest Holmes that he's not going to play, in my mind, he's playing."

If Holmes does return, it will be as a backup to emerging star Larry Johnson.

After toiling behind Holmes for two years, Johnson rushed for more than 100 yards in each of his nine starts last season, racking up 1,750 yards and scoring 20 touchdowns. It was enough that one of Edwards' first moves with the Chiefs was to name Johnson the starting running back entering fall camp.

Both running backs will have a veteran offensive line to run behind. Right guard Will Shields and left tackle Willie Roaf, both 12-time Pro Bowlers who each toyed with retirement, have decided to return for one more run.

"I thought about (retiring)," Roaf said. "I talked to Will and some of the guys. Then last year we finished so strong at the end of the year. It was great seeing Will come back. That helped."

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