KANSAS CITY, Mo., — Pro Bowl safety Eric Berry back rejoined the Kansas City Chiefs on the practice field Monday following a lengthy holdout, and despite the acrimonious offseason the veteran was all smiles as he anxiously returned to work with his teammates.
“I’ve always got the itch to play,” Berry “I don’t like sitting out too long. I just love being around my teammates as well.”
Berry signed the one-year franchise tender contract of $10.8 million over the weekend, and now the focus turns to preparing for the team’s season opener at home versus San Diego Sept. 11.
The veteran safety expressed confidence he will be ready for the opener.
“The only thing is just getting used to have so many NFL bodies flying around,” Berry said. “You try to fill it with high school players and other people that’s around training, but it’s different when you have 11 guys on the field that know what they’re doing and know where to be. Things tend to move a little faster.”
Chiefs defensive coordinator Bob Sutton has no doubts Berry can return to form quickly.
“I just can’t imagine anybody in the National Football League that has a better outlook on the opportunity to play than him because of what he’s been through,” Sutton said.
Head coach Andy Reid said Sunday he thought it unlikely that Berry would play in the team’s final preseason game against Green Bay on Thursday night at Arrowhead.
“I would probably lean against playing him Thursday,” Reid said. “We’ll likely just give him time within practice to get himself ready for the opener.”
Berry said he mixed up his offseason training regimen, tailoring his training program to match the team’s practice schedule to ensure a smooth transition.
“I trained during practice hours,” Berry said. “I just tried to do everything I could on my end to make sure when I came here it could be as much as possible alike.”
The Chiefs first-team defense struggled without Berry through two preseason games against the rush before smothering the Chicago Bears on Saturday. The defensive leader watched the Chiefs’ games on TV and saw his teammates making adjustments.
“One thing about our team, we adjust very well,” he said. “You saw that in the Bears game. The problems that we had early on, they get fixed. It’s just about making those adjustments and minimizing the mistakes.”
The most difficult part of the holdout for Berry proved to be missing the camaraderie with his teammates.
“It was tough just because I love my teammates,” Berry said. “I wouldn’t trade them for anything They were a part of me during the whole struggle, so it was definitely hard not to be here, let alone practice, but just being around them on a daily basis that was kind of tough for me, especially the DBs.”
Berry showed he’s prepared to leave the contract dispute behind him and focus on the season ahead.
“People don’t agree on a lot of things in life period,” Berry explained. “That’s just a part of it. I just didn’t agree with, and the other side didn’t agree with it, but at the end of the day we all want to win games. That’s the part we agree on, and we feel like we have a chance.”
The Chiefs enter the final week of the preseason with relatively few injuries. Offensive lineman Parker Ehinger (ill), linebackers Justin Houston (knee) and Josh Mauga (groin) and fullback (Trey Millard) were the only players on the sideline for Monday’s practice. Defensive back Jeron Johnson was excused for personal maters.
Center Mitch Morse left practice early, giving him a light day after his illness over the weekend. Morse fell ill before Saturday’s game against Chicago and was a late scratch from the lineup.