Priest Holmes: Going Full Speed

Priest Holmes (Harry How/Getty)

Wednesday, Priest Holmes talked to the media about the effect of the absence of Dwight Freeney on the Colts' defense and his road to recovery from his spinal cord injury last season!

On not facing DE-Dwight Freeney...

"That's going to do a number of things with the absence of Freeney because just the force he brings to their defense. But at the same time, they're a basic defense and they play hard, aggressive football and they line up, they don't do much to try to trick you. They just play very good ball and that's the reason whey they have been successful."

On how he has been tested in the past 18 months...

"One of the areas that I was tested was definitely just the desire to be able to come back and to get back on the field with the spinal cord bruise. There's a number of things that does, of course, to an individual. One, it takes the desire away from you to really want to do anything explosive or will cause you to really bump in or have any types of pressure brought to that area of the body, especially the neck area. So subconsciously a lot of those things had changed, and just the test to come back from that and to be able to put the helmet on and stick my neck out there and take the shots and to play free like I've done all these years and in high school, never really worrying about an injury, but knowing that injuries are a part of the game. I think just the test, it comes with waking up every day and deciding to come to work and to make yourself better. Every Monday I run the hills here anywhere from 12 to 15 times, and what that does is just builds the base. It allows me to know that I'm getting better, but it's just the test to be able to get up every day, day in and day out, and come to work and make sure that you're preparing and working a little bit harder than the next guy."

On when he got hurt if he knew something was wrong or if he thought he would be okay...

"No, I actually thought that it was just a typical stinger outside of the fact that I had a concussion. I really didn't think much of it. I was ready to go back out there and play, but of course T-Rich (Tony Richardson), who was my fullback at the time and is now with the Minnesota Vikings, I said, ‘Come on T-Rich, we have to get back out there.' He said, ‘Man, what are you talking about? The last (third) quarter has passed. We're already in the fourth quarter. You're not going out there.' So it was really one of those cases where I really had to step back and say, okay, there is something that did happen. There is something that must be wrong, I need to really get it looked at, because up until that San Diego game which was the eighth game of the year, there as some type of stinger or burner. It was just something that was developing, that was a process. Of course the body catches up to you and at some point, the body will tell you to stop, and that's exactly what happened."

On if he lost time...

"They said about 20 minutes to where, I just assumed that we were just coming back on the field after the beginning of the third quarter. But of course it was actually the fourth quarter. So about 20-25 minutes where there was some loss of time and memory, and I think that's where the doctor said we really need to address this, because even though it's happened every week to some degree, whether it was the 30 seconds numbness to a minute numbness, we really can't overlook this particular time. We have to pull you out and make sure we do the best thing possible. That's the reason I had three doctors, one in the Midwest, I had one out in L.A. and one in Miami, and flying coast to coast to really get a pinpoint of what was really going on."

On when and how he was able to realize he wasn't risking his neck...

"I think the time off that was given, and within the 22 months. I think it was about 12 months to the exact date that it took before my body was just able to start recuperating from the fact that the spinal cord had been pinched and all the different things that was causing the numbness, the tingling, the loss of feeling, and to be able to experience that starting in camp and then to say it's nothing and continue to play, that was a true test. It's like any athlete knows even though the fan doesn't know that, ‘Okay, this is going to catch up to me, it's just a matter of when will it catch up to me?' We always look that maybe we can get through the season and deal with it at the end, but of course it came at that eighth game. So I think that during the time of that first 12 months where the body really wasn't responding to any type of desire to do anything other than to rest, that's exactly what took place. And then it was about six months after that 12—that put me at about 18 months—until the point where I really had, I did a two-day camp in San Antonio. We do it every year, an annual camp called Camp With the Pros. It wasn't until after doing that camp and then they aired on that Sunday following that Saturday camp, what am I going to be doing this upcoming season? They had some runs from '04 and '03, and I really looked at it and hadn't really seen myself run in the last 18 months. And then I saw myself on TV and that was the first spark that I had, or desire, that came out of me, which was June 29 of 2007."


Larry Johnson
Greg Trott/Getty Images

On if he has experienced any tingling or anything residual this season...

"No, I haven't experienced anything like that. And I'm one that if the body is doing the right things and it's not talking to me in a negative way or sending the red flags off for caution, I just go full speed. So nothing residual. I think that I've worked really hard. I've been very diligent as far as the last 14 weeks of waking up at 7 in the morning, working out, coming back at 11 o'clock, working out, and just that ability to stay consistent with those workouts. And then it got me to the opportunity to come out and then be able to come into the game versus Oakland and run the ball a couple of times and then do the same thing in Green Bay. Then, unfortunately, with the injury to L.J. (Larry Johnson), it just provided another opportunity. I think that's just the game of football. There are so many different sides to it. One person is going up, one person is going down. You just have to be able and be ready to step in when you're called upon."

On getting started with the Ravens...

"Ted Marchibroda came to me and said, ‘Priest, you're not going to run the ball one time this year, but you can play special teams, and if you can show us that you can adapt to that, then we'll look into you running the ball next year.' Then we brought in Errict Rhett, we had Jay Graham, our third-round pick from 1997, and those guys went down within the first three games. Then, that fourth game versus Cincinnati is when I made my first start."

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