(Literally) Day to day, more and more questions we’ve held onto all year continue to be answered by the Kansas City Chiefs and Eric Berry. Berry, of course, missed the first 13 games of the season with what the team has described as a “sore heel.”
Will he play this year? Yes.
Will he be the same player he once was? Actually, it seems like it.
How will he recover after he finally plays his first game?
Berry answered the third question on Thursday.
“We got a few extra days off, so that was beneficial but I bounce back pretty well, so I’m pleased with where I’m at right now,” Berry said, before being asked about whether that was his expectation. “It is what it was. I feel pretty good right now though.”
Berry played 30 snaps in the first half of the 29-28 loss against the Los Angeles Chargers last Thursday night and looked like one of the team’s best players on the field while doing it.
He showcased an ability to tackle that we haven’t been accustomed to seeing from the Chiefs, especially in the secondary, this season, leading the Chiefs with six in the first half.
“I thought he brought a lot of energy,” Chiefs defensive coordinator Bob Sutton said of Berry Thursday. “I thought he was very aggressive. One of the things you really notice when you have him on the field is the physicality that he brings to the defense. Some of them aren’t big plays, but all of a sudden the holes stuffed up differently, and I thought he played real aggressively.”
Sutton added that there were some corrections to be made after his long absence, but Berry explained that he has already gone over the film with the coaching staff to address them.
“Now we’re just focused on Seattle and putting together a good plan for them,” Berry said.
As far as Berry’s in-game reaction time went, Sutton was pleased.
“I thought his reactions were pretty good,” Sutton said. “You’re just never sure. I don’t even know if he knows. There’s going to be an upgrade on that, the more he plays, but I thought he did a really good job. He got in about 30 snaps or something, and that’s about as many as we had hoped for. He played, he came out of it pretty good and hopefully, he can just keep going.”
The only problem with 30 snaps for the Chiefs is how the rest of the game played out upon Berry’s departure. After holding the Chargers to just seven points in the first half with Berry, the Chiefs allowed 22 in the second without him.
So now the next question becomes, what will his “pitch count” be this week? As of Thursday, that is still unknown.
“We’re still working, so we’re going to come up with it toward the end of the week and see what’s up,” Berry said.
Sutton said it is still up in the air—and could be until the game begins.
“I think this one, we’ll probably be a little more flexible and see how he feels,” Sutton said. “Our thought there in the first half is kind of let him play and see where he’s at. We debated—do you want to play him for three plays and take him out? Sometimes, that’s really hard on a player, especially someone who hasn’t played in 29 games, so we just elected to do it. I think there might be some more flexibility in that, and I think we’ll just have to monitor if there is long drives—say, ‘OK. Does he need a break?’
“I think everybody here has a real confidence in him being able to say, ‘I got to back this down here and go like that.’ So we haven’t really talked about exactly like, ‘Is he going to play 40 plays this week, or 50 plays this week?’ But just kind of play it by ear a little bit, and see when they come about.”
Berry is at least sounding like a player who is ready for more...
“I’m just here to play football,” Berry said. “I love the sport. I got a passion for the sport, so whatever’s going to help the team, that’s what I’m willing to do, so I’m just locked in on that.”
...the words you’d hope to hear from the highest-paid safety in the league.