ALAMEDA — Jason Taylor, Dwight Freeney, Julius Peppers, Osi Umenyiora. Mention any of those names, and even a casual football fan likely visualizes a quarterback running for safety from a defensive end harboring sinister intentions.
Perhaps only hard-core football fans know much about Jared Allen. No, it isn't an upscale furniture store from the Midwest or a paint company. This Jared Allen is the leading sack artist in the AFC and the linchpin of the Kansas City Chiefs defense.
For a proper introduction, let's bring in Raiders left offensive tackle Barry Sims, the man assigned to block Allen in Sunday's matchup at McAfee Coliseum.
"He's a tenacious, relentless, tough, hard-nosed football player," Sims said. "He's always been good."
Good and somewhat anonymous, for whatever reason. Not to many Bay Area fans, though. Allen, 25, forged his way into the memory banks of Bay Area fans through his stellar play at Live Oak (San Jose) and Los Gatos high schools in the late 1990s.
However, people tend to think of offensive players when it comes to the Chiefs, who feature high-profile standouts such as tight end Tony Gonzalez and running back Larry Johnson.
Sims said he's convinced people know all about Allen by now. Then again, he's inherently biased, given his assignment of learning everything about Allen through videotape study and such.
"People are aware of him," Sims said. "If not, they should be, because he has been tearing up tackles all
Well, not literally. Allen has six sacks and a slew of near-misses on a defense that finally is catching up to its offensive counterparts in terms of production after many years of being overlooked, if not ridiculed.
Raiders quarterback Daunte Culpepper perked up when he was asked about Allen.
"He's a great player," Culpepper said. "He has, as we like to say, a motor. He keeps going and going, and we definitely have to be aware of him. Offensive linemen, tight ends chipping him on the way out, (running) backs, they have to be aware of him."
HOLMES COMEBACK: As if facing Johnson isn't cause enough for great concern, the Raiders face the prospect of seeing old nemesis Priest Holmes on Sunday too.
Holmes hasn't played since the 2005 season, in which he sustained neck and spinal injuries when being hit by San Diego Chargers linebacker Shawne Merriman. Many people assumed Holmes would retire. Not so.
Holmes showed up at training camp this season and declared his intention to resume his NFL career. He practiced for the first time Wednesday and is ready to go, he said.
"I'm ready now," Holmes told the Kansas City media Wednesday, "but it's really not up to me. It's a matter of when (coaches) give me the green light. They've given me the green light to practice, so this is basically test two."
Chiefs coach Herm Edwards said he likes what he has seen from Holmes.
"When you have a layoff of two years, your legs are pretty fresh," Edwards said. "We'll see how he is (this week), and we won't make a decision on that. We don't really have to at this point in time, but he practiced, and he did OK."
Holmes was one of the game's premier backs before he was injured. He set the league mark for touchdowns in a season with 27 in 2003 — since eclipsed by Shaun Alexander (28, 2005) and LaDainian Tomlinson (31, '06).
EXTRA POINTS: Defensive tackle Gerard Warren (thigh) and outside linebacker Sam Williams (shoulder) won't play Sunday, coach Lane Kiffin said. Both missed last Sunday's game. Quarterback Josh McCown (toe) is doubtful. ... The Chiefs worked out defensive end Quentin Moses. He was the first of Oakland's three third-round selections in the 2007 NFL draft and was released before the season. The Arizona Cardinals signed him a short time later but released him Tuesday.
Official thread killer I have heard.