When I've been asked about Eric Berry this season, my answer usually goes something like this: "He's healthy and playing but he doesn't seem that he's the same Berry. He's not a bad player, not by any means. But the trajectory he was on in his rookie year set him up for being a great safety and he just isn't there yet."
Berry know he was supposed to be a great safety and thinks he's still on his way to getting there.
Danny Parkins had a very good interview this week with Berry, who we haven't heard from in a while. Berry told Parkins before the interview that he only wanted to talk about positive things (which Danny didn't really pay attention to, asking about Romeo and Routt right off the bat).
Danny asked Berry about his goals of becoming a great safety, and he said, "That's still one of my goals and I'm still working towards that goal."
So how close is Berry to that goal? How would he grade his play this year?
"I feel like I've been playing to the best of my ability, yes I have," Berry said.
That's an interesting answer to me. The answer isn't, "I'm playing at a high level right now" it's basically "I'm playing as hard as I can right now." Interesting.
"And also been knocking off some rust," Berry continued. "I had a whole year away from the game so as far as where I'm at now, I feel like I'm coming into my own, getting my feet back under me and remembering a lot of those things I learned in my rookie year and getting that game experience back. So that's how I feel. Like I said, I will be one of the best in this game."
Love Berry's matter-of-fact confidence. But it does seem like something's different, like Berry's a step slower. Maybe I'm wrong and the play of the entire defense is influencing how I'm viewing Berry but that's what I've noticed this year. Berry, though, says he's totally healthy.
"My knee is perfect," he said. "The mental aspect towards my knee is perfect. But just out there going through game situations. I had a whole year away from the game so that's why I needed that game experience to just feel my way back around. But right now I got it back so I'm ready to go."
I'm not that worried about Berry because his floor is an average starting safety. But It'd be awful nice to see him achieve his incredibly high ceiling.