New roles coming for Chiefs’ safeties after Eric Berry injury

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Head coach Andy Reid repeatedly makes the case that no one can replace injured safety Eric Berry, who undergoes season-ending repair of his Achilles tendon this week.

Kansas City Chiefs safety Eric Murray delivers a hit during the team’s game against the San Diego Chargers on Jan. 1, 2017. (Photo courtesy Chiefs PR, Chiefs.com)

“That’s not what you’re going to do, not the whole package of Eric Berry,” Reid said. “He’s one of the great ones in the game.”

In fact, it takes at least safeties Daniel Sorensen and Eric Murray to pick up the slack left by the hole vacated by the All-Pro Berry.

“It will depend on the package that we’ve got, and we’ve got Murray and Sorensen and they both are experienced there,” Reid explained Monday. “It just depends on what we’re going to do. Sorensen plays all over the place, but those are the two guys.”

Sorensen currently lines up as the team’s third safety and frequently plays in packages requiring an in-the-box safety in a linebacker-type role. He also stands as one of the team’s top special teams players. Sorensen played 80 total snaps against New England, with 48 on defense and 32 on special teams.

Berry played 70 snaps, missing only 11 defensive snaps in the game. That leaves little extra duty available for Sorenson.

Murray expects to pick up a fair amount of Berry’s playing time. He played just 13 snaps against the Patriots.

The Chiefs also added safety Steven Terrell to the mix over the weekend. Terrell join the club as a free agent from Seattle during the offseason. He spent all of training camp and preseason with the team.

Reid said Terrell graded well with the team and can contribute on special teams as well as on the back end of the defense.

“He is a smart kid,” Reid said. “We like the way he played when he was here. He seemed to be a good communicator back there, which is what you need.”

As for Berry, he left Kansas City for Green Bay, Wis., for surgery on his rupture left Achilles tendon by Dr. Robert Anderson, head of the NFL’s Foot and Ankle Subcommittee. Anderson performed both Achilles tendon repairs on Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson, according to club’s head athletic trainer Rick Burkholder.

“If you remember from Derrick’s injuries, this is about a six-month recovery, however that’s just a ballpark,” Burkholder said.

He alluded to the other physical challenges Berry overcame earlier in his NFL career, including an ACL tear in 2011 and a triumphant battle against Hodgin’s lymphoma in 2014.

“We know that Eric Berry has done some amazing things in the past,” Burkholder said. “He’s already started the rehab process with us yesterday and as soon as we can get him back here from Green Bay we’ll continue with it.”

Reid echoed Burkholder’s assessment of Berry’s third comeback attempt.

“There was a point in his life where he didn’t know if he was going to have that opportunity to play or if he would,” Reid explained. “He’s going to attack the surgery and the rehab after the surgery I’m sure with a lot of intensity and he’ll be back.”

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Matt Derrick is the lead beat writer for ChiefsDigest.com. Use the contact page to reach him or find him on Twitter: @MattDerrick.

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