Kansas City Chiefs star running back Priest Holmes will miss the rest of the season with a knee injury. Holmes, who was leading the NFL in scoring and rushing when he got hurt...

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City Chiefs star running back Priest Holmes will miss the rest of the season with a knee injury.

Holmes, who was leading the NFL in scoring and rushing when he got hurt Nov. 7, was placed on injured reserve yesterday but will not require surgery.

“It was the best thing to do for Priest Holmes and his future,” coach Dick Vermeil said. “I think he’ll be 100 percent within a month, two months at least.”

Vermeil said Holmes might have remained on the roster if the Chiefs (4-8) were headed for the playoffs. But he had already been declared out for Monday night’s game at Tennessee, and the Chiefs will play only three more times after that.

“The rehab is taking longer and with the season only four weeks to go and Priest feeling the pressure to get ready to play … obviously he wasn’t going to be able to,” Vermeil said. “There was some talk that in a couple of weeks he might start practicing with a brace on the knee.

“But we aren’t going to do that to Priest Holmes.”

Holmes was injured on what appeared to be a routine tackle at Tampa Bay, forcing an early end to what was shaping up as a terrific year.

He had been the NFL’s player of the month for October, when he had three 100-yard rushing games, rushed for nine touchdowns and caught 10 passes for 170 yards and a touchdown.

One year after setting an NFL record with 27 touchdowns, he was on pace to be the first NFL player to score 20 or more touchdowns rushing in three consecutive seasons.

“He was on pace to have a great year, no question about it. I think there was a couple of times he probably left a 200-yard rushing game in the locker room,” Vermeil said.

In their final four games, the Chiefs will alternate running backs Derrick Blaylock and Larry Johnson, who both have had 100-yard rushing days in the four games Holmes has already missed.

“Now we have a chance to watch both of these guys grow,” Vermeil said.

Holmes ends 2004 with 892 yards rushing on 196 carries with 15 touchdowns. He also caught 19 passes for 187 yards and one score. His season highlight came in the Chiefs’ 56-10 win over Atlanta, when he and Blaylock each scored four of the Chiefs’ NFL-record eight TDs rushing.

Burress to miss another game

PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Plaxico Burress was ruled out of Sunday’s game against the Jets after missing practice with a sore hamstring, a day after he felt confident he was close to returning.

Burress, the Steelers’ top downfield receiving threat, will miss a third consecutive game. He hasn’t played since getting hurt three minutes into the second quarter of a 19-14 victory Nov. 21 in Cincinnati.

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger returned to practice after sitting out Wednesday with a bruised thigh and didn’t appear to be favoring the injury. He was hurt during Pittsburgh’s come-from-behind 17-16 win Sunday night in Jacksonville, though he isn’t certain when.

“I’m fine,” Roethlisberger said. “It’s not a problem.”

The Steelers (11-1) can’t say the same thing about Burress’ nagging injury, which was initially expected to sideline him only one game. Now, Burress doesn’t want to take a chance by playing again until the injury is 100 percent healed.

“This is the first time I’ve hurt my hamstring so I’m just trying to take it day by day,” Burress said. “You don’t want to go there and hurt yourself for later down the road. I’ve always said that, if I don’t feel well, I’m not going to go out there and hurt my teammates or hurt myself more.”

Burress tried warming up Sunday night in Jacksonville and ran without much difficulty, but he was concerned any rapid burst of acceleration might cause the injury to flare up again — perhaps leading to a lengthy layoff.

“I don’t want to take a step back and hurt my team going down the stretch,” said Burress, who is unsigned past this season.

The effect of Burress’ absence has been evident, even as the Steelers have kept winning without him.

The Steelers’ scoring average has dropped from 28.5 in the six games before Burress was hurt to 17.3 in their past three games.


Emmitt Smith was upgraded from doubtful to questionable for Sunday’s game against the San Francisco 49ers, but the Arizona running back was not making any promises he’d play. Smith sat out last week’s 26-12 loss to Detroit with a sprained left big toe.

• Several weeks of lackluster punts and kickoffs cost Micah Knorr his job with the Denver Broncos. Denver waived Knorr and signed Jason Baker, cut a day earlier by Indianapolis.

• Atlanta, Houston, Miami and Tampa, Fla., were selected as the four finalists for the 2009 Super Bowl. One of the four will be chosen as host by the league’s owners next May.