The question of when running back Larry Johnson will report to camp remains the Chiefs' No. 1 issue in the week before they depart for River Falls, Wis., on July 26.
But the running back situation in Kansas City took an interesting twist on Wednesday when the team announced Priest Holmes intends to return to the team 21 months after a big hit appeared to end his career. Holmes suffered head and neck trauma that kept him out all of last season.
"In my conversation with Priest, he was excited about playing," Chiefs president Carl Peterson said in a statement.
Holmes hasn't played for nearly two years and will turn 34 on Oct. 7, but his presence provides at least a little more breathing room should Johnson engage in a lengthy holdout.
Johnson may not be the only prominent no-show on the flight to the Twin Cities area.
Still unsigned just a week before reporting day are Kansas City's top four draft picks, all of whom have a chance to play big roles in their rookie seasons.
To be sure, rookie signings come fast and furious in the days prior to final boarding call. But the Chiefs would be hard-pressed to have a special teams practice without UCLA's Justin Medlock, their fourth-round draft pick and the only kicker on the roster.
Second-round draft pick Turk McBride, a defensive lineman out of Tennessee, has a chance to play extensively at defensive end, especially when starter Jared Allen misses the season's first two weeks on an NFL substance abuse suspension that was reduced from its original four-week penalty. But for McBride to make an immediate impact, he can't afford to miss much camp time.
Top draft pick Dwayne Bowe of Louisiana State could make an immediate splash at wide receiver, but he's one of the many unsigned first rounders waiting for the dominos to fall in the slotting process.
As for LJ, he wasn't tipping his plans when appearing at a Kansas City autograph session last week. After rushing for 1,700-plus yards in back-to-back seasons and setting an NFL single-season record with 416 rushes last year, Johnson knows he deserves more financial respect than the $1.92 million he's scheduled to get under terms of the rookie deal he signed in 2002. He says he's financially prepared himself to sit (and be fined) until a new deal is forthcoming.
Still, it's in Johnson's best interests to be on board sometime before the 10th week of the season. He has to receive credit for a fifth year of service before he can void the final two years of his deal.