Priest Holmes had every reason to be wary of Jamal Lewis, the Baltimore Ravens' top pick in the 2000 draft.
Instead, Holmes welcomed the rookie running back to training camp and went out of his way to prepare him for the NFL.
"It would be hard to be threatened because I've been playing so long," Holmes said Monday. "I have a very good work ethic and I believe in Christ, and those two things are hard to beat."
Now in his fourth season, Holmes ran for 1,008 yards in 1998 and averaged 5.7 yards last year as the backup to Errict Rhett, who left for Cleveland during the offseason.
"First of all, Priest is a heck of a running back," Ravens fullback Chuck Evans said. "It takes a lot to get 1,000 yards in the NFL. He's a good guy, a perfect human being. The guy just works hard."
Holmes remains the No. 1 running back, but there's no telling how the depth chart will look after Lewis returns from the dislocated elbow he received in Friday's scrimmage against the Washington Redskins.
Holmes couldn't care less. He figures he'll get his carries, and he looks forward to the time when Lewis returns.
"It's going to save the hits off me," Holmes said. "I know Jamal is going to be in there on third-and-1, and that's one less hit I'll have to take. It should help me in terms of speed and endurance."
Holmes just isn't saying that. He has proved he's unselfish, as exhibited by his rapport with fans who attend Ravens training camp.
There isn't a hat, or a piece of paper or a football that he won't sign. He doesn't put his name down, either. He talks with each fan as if he's a friend.
"I was out there for an hour Saturday, and when I got done he was still out there," coach Brian Billick said.
Holmes isn't interested in his own numbers. He just wants to win, and he figures Lewis can make it happen. If it means Holmes get less carries and less notoriety, then so be it.
"I'll give him all my knowledge, because the goal is to get to the playoffs. It's a big year for me, whether I get 200 snaps or 89 like I did last year," he said.
"Jamal can add size and punch. He's got the power, I've got the speed. Nothing changes," Holmes added. "I'm still going to run 60-yard touchdowns this year; I do it every year. But there are times we need a bigger back to push the line back."
Starting free safety Shaun Williams will miss Saturday's preseason opener against Chicago with a sprained left big toe.
Williams was hurt on the first play of last Saturday's intrasquad scrimmage when someone rolled onto the back of his foot. He is expected to miss 1-2 weeks, but could be out longer. The encouraging news, according to coach Jim Fassel, is that X-rays were negative and the swelling eased.
Williams, who is on crutches and walking with a protective boot, will be replaced by Lyle West, the Giants' sixth-round pick last year.
Pro Bowl defensive end Michael Strahan spent Monday in Manhattan, his fourth straight absence, to have doctors and his chiropractor loosen his stiff back. He will not play against Chicago.
Running back Sean Bennett returned to practice Monday after missing a week with a bulging disc in his lower back.
Center Rich Braham will have surgery to remove a bursa sac from his right knee and might miss the season opener against Cleveland.
Braham, limited by swelling and soreness in the knee during training camp, decided on surgery Monday. Trainer Paul Sparling estimated he will be out 3-5 weeks.
Braham is the only player on the Bengals' roster who has started an NFL game at center. Fourth-year veteran Brock Gutierrez, who has played guard and center, is expected to start Cincinnati's preseason game Friday in Buffalo.
Running back Olandis Gary returned to practice Monday for the first time since straining his right hamstring more than a week ago.
Gary, who strained his hamstring July 23 during Denver's first full-pad workout, ran without any visible limp, and coach Mike Shanahan was optimistic about his recovery.
"I thought he looked fairly good," Shanahan said. "You can see he's not full speed, but he's making some strides."
Besides Gary, running back Terrell Davis has been held out of some practices as he returns from knee surgery. Davis said he expects to play in the team's first preseason game Saturday at Arizona.
"I'm excited about this weekend," he said. "Hopefully, I'll get a significant amount of carries and some playing time. Hopefully, I'll come out OK and look at film and say, 'I'm back."'
Sean Dawkins, an eight-year veteran receiver, injured a toe in Sunday's scrimmage and missed practice Monday. Coach Mike Holmgren didn't know how long Dawkins, who returned to camp last Wednesday after being cut and re-signed, would be sidelined.
Meanwhile, Derrick Mayes returned to practice Monday after a hamstring injury. Dawkins and Mayes are the team's top receivers since Joey Galloway was traded to Dallas.
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