KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Chiefs fans seeking faith in a resurgent defense for the 2018 received a glimmer of hope on the opening day of organized team activities, even if the assurance only arrived via photos of safety Eric Berry on the team’s web site.
The site of Berry on a football field with his helmet on is all many Chiefs fans need to experience a jolt of confidence heading toward the new season. The 29-year-old Berry didn’t make it through the season’s opening night last year before a torn Achilles tendon ended his season after it barely began.
But Berry’s return delivers a shot of adrenaline into a pass defense that ranked 29th in the league without their emotional leader on the field.
How much Berry and the team’s other returning injured veterans are contributing during OTAs remains murky at best. In the past the Chiefs opened all 10 of their voluntary practices open to the media. This year just three practices will be open as the team works out over the next three weeks. The three-day mandatory minicamp June 12-14 will also be open to the media.
Wide receiver Chris Conley, who also suffered a torn Achilles tendon early last season, appeared in photos wearing a helmet and going through drills. Running back Spencer Ware and wide receiver De’Anthony Thomas, both of whom ended last season on injured reserve, appeared in a photo together without their helmets. Players not participating in practice often observe on the sidelines without a helmet.
Until Thursday’s practice open to the media, however, fans will have to glean what they can through photos the team chooses to post on its website.
Tuesday’s OTA practice session marked the first of 10 voluntary workouts the team will hold over the next three weeks. The marks the third and final phase of the NFL’s offseason program. During this portion of offseason work teams are permitted to conduct 7-on-7, 9-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills. No live contact is allowed.
The team will hold three practices through Thursday this week, followed by practices on May 29-31 and June 5-8. None of the practices are open to the public. Only Thursday practices are open to the media, which means updates will be more limited than past offseasons.
Phase three concludes with a mandatory minicamp June 12-14. All three practices will be open to the media. That will be the last work the team performs together before trekking to training camp in St. Joseph, Mo., in late July.
A handful of rookies and young players swapped numbers since the team’s rookie minicamp. Most of the changes reflect roster changes and the addition of unsigned rookie free agents.
Kansas State rookie wide receiver Byron Pringle now wears No. 1 after wearing No. 7 during the team’s rookie minicamp. Rookie cornerbacks Arrion Springs and D’Montre Wade swapped numbers following the minicamp. Aprings now wears No. 40 and Wade No. 38. Tight end/wide receiver Blake Mack wore No. 46 during rookie minicamp but now wears No. 88.
Cornerback David Amerson claimed No. 24 upon arriving in Kansas City, sending cornerback Will Redmond to No. 26. Free agent defensive lineman T.Y. McGill picked up No. 99 upon the departure of Rakeem Nunez-Roches.
Demetrius Harris suspended
Demetrius Harris pleaded guilty to marijuana charges in March, and on Tuesday the NFL handed down a one-game suspension to the 26-year-old tight end.
Harris can participate in offseason workouts as well as training camp and preseason games. The suspension kicks in following the conclusion of the preseason and ends on Sept. 10. Harris will miss the season opener at the Los Angeles Chargers but can return for the Week 2 trip to visit the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Bates County, Mo. Sheriff’s office arrested Harris in March 2017 following a traffic stop for possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia.