KANSAS CITY, Mo – Eric Berry made a long-awaited return to the football field during Sunday’s 24-10 win against the New York Jets.
Berry, who missed five straight games with a high ankle sprain, didn’t take the field with the starters.
But the All-Pro strong safety appeared fine with the backup role.
“It was just what they (coaching staff) came and told me to do,” Berry said. “I just went ahead and went on with it.”
It seemed the Chiefs eased Berry back into action, a move that makes sense when considering the lost time.
Additionally, Berry hasn’t put in a full practice since suffering the injury in Week 2 against the Denver Broncos.
Coach Andy Reid said the Jets incorporating sub packages on offense prompted the defense to go with nickel packages.
Still, he appeared encouraged from what Berry accomplished against the Jets.
“I thought it was important that he got back in and into the swing of things in particular the speed of the game and getting used to that again,” Reid said. “I thought he played well for what I saw, it looked like he played well.”
While Berry didn’t start, he finished tied for third in total tackles with six (five solo).
The impact plays Berry is known for, such as forcing turnovers, were missing, but Berry said he felt good being on the field.
“It was fun getting out there with the guys,” he said. “We put in a lot of work during the offseason. Seeing them ball out on the field and make plays while I couldn’t be out there to help them, it was tough to watch. But it felt good to get out there.”
Berry’s presence on the field also provided a boost to teammates.
“He’s been hungry to get out here to play,” cornerback Phillip Gaines said. “I was talking to him last night; I was excited for him. He was trying to stay in the middle, not get too high, not too low. I feel like anytime he’s on the field, he has to be accounted for.”
For now, Berry is fine doing what the coaching staff asks of him while he gets back in football shape.
The Chiefs have depth in the defensive secondary, evidenced by overcoming Berry’s injury by plugging in Ron Parker. The Chiefs also are dealing with injuries to cornerbacks Chris Owens (knee) and Jamell Fleming (hamstring), both of whom missed Sunday’s game, and have adjusted with Gaines and Marcus Cooper.
The overall play of Parker, Gaines, Cooper, free safety Husain Abdullah and cornerback Sean Smith affords the coaching staff flexibility on how to utilize personnel.
“The coaches came up with a good plan for us and we got a nice secondary, got a good rotation,” Berry said. “We just come in and handle business.”