© St. Petersburg Times, published January 5, 2003
Kenny Holmes has broken free.
The sore right knee that plagued the Giants defensive end last season is "less banged-up than it was," he said. He's quicker, faster, stronger.
"He made a big turnabout from a year ago," New York defensive line coach Denny Marcin said. "I think it was his determination, his work ethic."
Holmes tied a personal best this season with eight sacks. He also recovered two fumbles, one a 50-yard touchdown return against Dallas. That helped to erase the memory of 2001, when Holmes had 3.5 sacks. Plus, his eighth sack triggered a $400,000 incentive clause.
"Yeah, yeah, you know, that doesn't hurt," Holmes said. "But it's about making plays."
NOT WHAT THEY WANT: When Jeff Garcia, Terrell Owens, Garrison Hearst and San Francisco's powerful offensive line are in synch, coach Steve Mariucci's offense is one of the league's most dangerous.
Trouble is, nobody in the 49ers locker room believes this team has come close to playing a completely satisfying game this season.
"It's frustrating, because we know we're better than this," defensive tackle Dana Stubblefield said. "You look around the room, and I honestly believe this group of guys shouldn't have lost more than once or twice."
Still, Mariucci believes in his players, not to mention fundamentals and attention to details.
"When you go into the playoffs, you don't come up with new offenses and new defenses and start running 37 reverses and all those sort of things," Mariucci said. "You tend to rely more on the elementary parts of football that sometimes, late in the year, might be forgotten."