Holmes practices what he preaches

Advice to stay patient pays for backup, Ravens

Super Bowl Xxxv

Ravems vs. Giants

January 19, 2001|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

Priest Holmes is following the same advice he gave Jamal Lewis last summer.

Be patient.

When Lewis landed in his first NFL camp, Holmes advised the rookie running back to study schemes and wait for his blockers to blast open holes.

Lewis set a Ravens record with 1,364 yards rushing, bettering a mark set by Holmes in 1998. The fourth-year pro's role dwindled as Lewis' expanded, but Holmes was ready when coach Brian Billick called on him in the AFC championship win over Oakland.

"The only thing I said to Jamal when he got here was to be patient as far as reading blocks," Holmes said. "Don't study a play one time and say, `I know what they're doing.' Be patient. The same applies to me and the long haul. If I don't follow my own advice, how can someone else walk that walk?"

Holmes carried nine times for 31 yards against the Raiders, including a gritty 11-yard gain on third-and-nine in the fourth quarter, when the Ravens were nursing a 13-3 lead. It was his second crucial third-down conversion.

"Priest was one of the most valuable people on the team," quarterback Trent Dilfer said.

It was Holmes' most action since November, when he had 128 yards on 30 carries in mop-up duty against Dallas and Cleveland.

He gained 51 yards in the last three regular-season games. Five carries went nowhere against Denver in the wild-card game. Holmes' number didn't get called a week later at Tennessee, but he was ready in Oakland.

A knee injury and Errict Rhett relegated Holmes to second string last season, when his 5.7-yard average was second in the NFL. When Lewis was injured in the preseason, Holmes started the opener in Pittsburgh and romped for 119 yards on 27 carries.

He had 588 yards rushing and 49 first downs in the regular season, second on the team in both categories behind Lewis.

As the Ravens' defense continues to dominate and the offense becomes more conservative, the value of a second quality back is magnified.

"It's nothing that anyone has said, just an understanding," Holmes said. "Right now, we're just trying to use all of the people we have at the skill positions, because we're diverse in that area.

"You have to cater toward the things you have on your team. My preparation during the year, that doesn't change whether I'm starting or not. The skill is there, it's just a matter of being plugged in. I've always been prepared."

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