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Chiefs' still unsure about Johnson's ankle

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ Larry Johnson spent Monday undergoing treatment and tests on his injured right foot amid fears Kansas City's Pro Bowl running back could be sidelined for an extended period.

The Chiefs said Johnson sustained a mid-foot sprain when he was tackled from behind after a short gain in the fourth quarter of Sunday's 33-22 loss to Green Bay. He was helped off the field by two trainers and was unable to put any weight on the foot.

The fifth-year back, who set an NFL record last season with 416 carries, has been off to a slow start after missing camp before signing a six-year, $45 million contract.

His absence could be a blow to what is already one of the league's feeblest offenses. It would also elevate Priest Holmes, the former Pro Bowler who has resurrected his career after missing almost two full seasons with a spinal injury.

"They're running some more tests," coach Herm Edwards said late Monday afternoon. "[Johnson] came in to get treatment, but they took an MRI and they're still studying it. We won't know for sure until probably [Tuesday] sometime exactly what the severity is and if he's going to be out, and if so, how long."

Holmes had four touches on Sunday for 16 yards as the Chiefs (4-4) remained tied with San Diego in the AFC West. The 34-year-old former Pro Bowler has had only seven carries for 17 yards since he returned three weeks ago, capping a remarkable and entirely unexpected comeback from a career-threatening spinal injury in October 2005.

Holmes would probably split duty with rookie Kolby Smith, who was taken in the fifth round out of Louisville, but has barely gotten on the field.

"I don't see Priest carrying the ball more than 15 times," Edwards said. "Kolby's going to have to carry it some. He's played more football this year, counting the preseason, than Priest has. You don't want to wear Priest out."

The Chiefs would prefer to have one featured back.

"We've got to do it by committee a little bit," Edwards said. "If we've got to do it that way, we've got to do it that way. You'd like to have a mainstay who you know can carry it 20 times and give the other guy the extras. I don't know if Kolby can carry it 20 times. Who knows?"

Consistency is what's often missing when runners share the load, Edwards said.

"It's the consistency of the runner. He's real familiar with how the line is going to block things and the line is familiar with how he's going to run. It all works together. Certain runners run certain ways. The linemen know where he's going to be on certain runs. And the runner gets a good feel for the blocking in front of him."

Kolby was drafted to be Johnson's backup.

"Before Priest came back, Kolby was kind of being groomed to be that second guy," Edwards said. "Priest comes, and that kind of puts a different spin on it. If Larry does miss some time, then we're going to find out about Kolby, which is good. He could be that second guy."

Holmes, who scored on a 2-point conversion after Johnson went out, has worked hard to get in shape. But no one is sure if he's regained the feel and timing that made him a three-time Pro Bowler.

"The only thing I've been doing for the last 10 or 12 weeks is working my tail off," he said. "I'll continue to do that, and if the opportunity presents itself, I'll be ready."

Sunday was the first time he'd appeared at Arrowhead Stadium since he was injured.

"It was something that has been a long time in the works," Holmes said. "To make it to the first home game since the 22-month layoff, I'm excited. I couldn't ask for anything more. It was a nice welcome back."

Smith said Monday he had spoken with Johnson to wish him well.

"I talked to him, asked him how he was doing," Smith said. "He said he was home just relaxing. That's pretty much all we said."

Smith said he did not discuss Johnson's status for this week's game against Denver.

"We didn't talk about that. I didn't even want to bring it up," he said. "I was just checking on him to see if he was OK or not."

Smith said he would be ready to assume part of the load.

"That's why I'm here. They drafted me for a reason and I have to take advantage of that opportunity," he said.


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