ST. JOSEPH, Mo. – Eric Berry’s return to football just eight months after defeating Hodgkin lymphoma has been remarkable.
He is now on track to add another personal high note.
Berry could see live action when the Chiefs open the preseason with a road contest against the Arizona Cardinals on Saturday night.
“We’re thinking he’s going to play and just see how thing go from here today,” coach Andy Reid said Wednesday. “He’s been going here, so I think he’s ready to get out there and do this thing.”
Berry’s anticipated return to action would bring delight to teammates, especially outside linebacker Justin Houston, who often visited Berry before chemotherapy sessions.
“I think it’s going to be very exciting not just for him,” Houston said, “but for us to have a guy like that behind you knowing he’s going to come play hard every play. It’s great to have him back.”
Berry’s on-field performances during training camp has gone a long way in alleviating concerns over his conditioning, as he has consistently made plays despite not playing since Week 12 of the 2014 season.
The Chiefs have taken it easy on the former All-Pro and three-time Pro Bowl safety in training camp, but the 6-0, 212-pound Berry has flashed the athleticism teammates have grown accustomed to seeing on the field.
“It took him a while to get his timing down, but I think he’s almost back to normal with his timing,” Houston said. “He’s making plays, he’s making interceptions. I think he’s back.”
The Chiefs are expected to play starters in the first quarter, the primary backups in the second quarter and into the third quarter, and the third-team units will finish the game.
While Berry has rotated in with the first-team defense, he has received a majority of his repetitions with the second-team defense. The Chiefs could choose to get him into Saturday’s preseason contest after pulling the starters.
The Chiefs currently list Berry as a free safety and second on the depth chart behind Husain Abdullah.
Berry participated in the most physical practice of camp just two days ago, where he didn’t shy from contact and had a pass break-up.
He capped off the week’s practice Wednesday with a crowd-please interception off a deflection during 7-on-7 drills, taking the errant pass back for a touchdown to the delight of attending fans.
The fans weren’t the only ones impressed with Berry’s display.
“I told him I saw too much of him today because he had a couple of interceptions from an offensive standpoint,” Reid said. “I’m happy as can be for him. He’s like a little kid out here playing.”
Houston agreed with the head coach.
“I think he’s always been ready,” Houston said of Berry. “It was more mental for him to get the game speed down pact. I think he’s ready.”
The Chiefs didn’t make Berry available to the media after Wednesday’s practice.
Reid, however, assured reporters the Chiefs are highly encouraged by what they’ve seen out of Berry, who has participated in three rookie/quarterback workouts and 11 full-team training camp practices.
“He’s having fun,” Reid said. “He’s appreciative of everything and everybody that has been with him throughout this whole ordeal. He’s loving life right now and that’s a part that shows on the field, too.”