ST. JOSEPH, Mo. – Injuries to safeties Eric Berry and Sanders Commings have juggled the Chiefs defensive backfield, with a new face joining the team and young players seeing increased time on the field.
Second-year safety Malcolm Bronson took Berry’s place at strong safety with the first team alongside starting free safety Hussain Abdullah.
Rookie Daniel Sorenson and Jerron McMillian took the majority of the second-team snaps, with newcomer Steve Gregory filling in at times for McMillian.
Defensive coordinator Bob Sutton expressed confidence in the ability of his young safeties, such as Bronson, to step up in the team’s time of need.
“Malclom has had a really good camp,” Sutton said. “He’s shown the ability to take command back there. He’s got a pretty good handle on what we’re doing.”
Berry left practice Thursday with a right heel injury and is expected to a take a few days off to relax.
“There’s just letting him have a few days just to let that relax,” a team spokesman said during the post-practice media session.
The news is less promising for Commings, who underwent surgery on his right ankle Thursday. Trainer Rick Burkholder said he suffered an injury similar to a high ankle sprain as well as a fractured fibula.
Burkholder said Commings is currently home recovering but gave no timetable on his potential return.
“He’s got some rehab ahead of him,” Burkholder said.
Wide receiver Kyle Williams and running back Charcandrick West both left practice with hamstring injuries. They joined wide receivers A.J. Jenkins, Junior Hemingway and Mark Harrison and defensive lineman Jermelle Cudjo on the sidelines with hamstring injuries. Defensive lineman Mike Catapano missed a third straight practice recovering from the flu.
Hemingway has missed five straight practices.
Running back Joe McKnight (knee) and cornerback David Van Dyke (hamstring) remain on the physically unable to perform list and did not practice.
The Chiefs dodged a scare during 9-on-9 drills when a block from guard Jeff Allen left linebacker Dee Ford writhing on the ground in pain, prompting a vocal response from linebacker Tamba Hali directed toward Allen. Ford favored his right side, but he quickly returned to practice and the team indicated he did no suffer an injury.
Defensive lineman Mike DeVito briefly visited the medical tent after limping off the field, but returned to practice.
Tight end Demetrius Harris missed practice with an excused absence.
Day Eight practice observations
• Competition at wide receiver remains fierce. With Junior Hemingway missing a fifth straight practice and Kyle Williams joining A.J. Jenkins and Mark Harrison on the sideline, Frankie Hammond and Albert Wilson continued to gain snaps and both made impressive plays. University of Missouri product Jerrell Jackson also saw extensive time with the second team offense after Williams left practice.
• The highlight play of the day belonged to running back Knile Davis. Working from deep in offensive territory, Davis took a swing pass from quarterback Chase Daniel, made a defender miss and picked up key blocks to nearly take it the length of the field before being pushed out of bounds by cornerback Marcus Cooper.
• Cyrus Gray had what may have been his best day of camp so far. Gray came up with long gains on two short passing plays and also ripped off a long run after eluding cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke.
• Rookie guard Zach Fulton made it three straight days running exclusively with the first-team offense ahead of Rishaw Johnson.
• Rookie cornerback Phillip Gaines made two interceptions on the day. During 11-on-11 drills, Gaines picked off a Tyler Bray pass tipped by cornerback Kevin Rutland. During 1-on-1 with wide receivers against cornerbacks passing drills, Gaines intercepted another Bray pass.
• Not much action in the kicking battle between incumbent Ryan Succop and rookie Cairo Santos. Both made their only kicks during during a game simulation. Special teams coach Dave Toub said performances in the preseason games would go a long way in determining the winner.
• Newly signed free agent safety Steve Gregory was at home in Syracuse, N.Y., with his family and six-week-old daughter. Gregory said he has been keeping himself in playing shape while waiting for a call from a prospective team in training camp but that he will need time to familiarize himself with the Chiefs terminology and schemes.
• The Chiefs continued to experiment with different combinations on the second- and third-team offensive lines. Tackles Ryan Harris and and Ryan McKee shared snaps at left tackle on the second unit, while Jeff Linkenbach lined up at both guard and tackle. Starting left guard Jeff Allen spent time during offensive line drills at right tackle.