Eric Berry Hurdles First Test in Return to Chiefs Defense

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Chiefs rank 28th in the league in points allowed per game and 31st among yards surrendered, but head coach Andy Reid saw something different in his defense during the first half of Thursday night's game against the Chargers with Eric Berry on the field for the first time this season.

“It picks everybody up, it gives everybody a little bit extra juice, absolutely,” Reid said about Berry's return.

The outcome of Thursday's game certainly told a tale of two halves for the Chiefs defense. With Berry on the field in the first half, the Chiefs yielded just 5.7 yards per play and allowed just 7 points. In the second half with Berry on the sideline, the Chargers picked up 6.5 yards per snap and rattled off 22 points for a come-from-behind 29-28 victory at Arrowhead Stadium.

Berry certainly seemed to make a difference both by the eye test and by the numbers.

“I thought he made plays, he made some nice plays in there,” Reid said. “As much in the run game in as the pass game. He had a couple of blitzes that he was good on. All over, all the way through I thought, you're talking about a Pro Bowl player, and you add him into the mix and that's a pretty good to do.”

His performance didn't grade out perfect, but Berry seemed to make an impact beyond his own play. The Chiefs defense seemed more communicative with Berry on the field, including the veteran repositioning teammates before the snap.

“He had probably one or two snaps that he'd like to have back, but I thought overall he did a nice job,” Reid said. “Did a good job of disguising and getting guys in position there when needed. It's good to have him back out there.

Berry's appearance Thursday night marked his first return to the field since Week 1 of the 2017 season. He missed most of last season with a torn left Achilles tendon, then missed the first 13 games of this season with a sore heel in his right foot.

The Chiefs planned to let Berry play the first half, but Reid didn't feel comfortable pushing his veteran too far. Reid admitted to nervousness about bringing Berry back after sitting through halftime.

“It's not just a matter of playing, it's the adrenaline that's built into it and those legs, they wear out fairly quick so why push it past that,” Reid said. “We got probably a few more snaps than we thought we'd get out there. I pulled back on him a little bit.”

Reid said Berry came out of the game feeling good, albeit a bit sore.

“He'll continue to increase time, we'll see how that disperses out there and what the plan will be for this coming week,” Reid said. “The positive was that he came out feeling good. He was sore, you know, he was sore he hadn't played in a long time.”

Berry said after Thursday's game he considered returning in Week 14 against Baltimore, but didn't “feel it in (his) spirit.” Reid said he has full trust in Berry's judgment and his communication with the team's coaching and medical staffs.

“It's a guy that you know wants to play.” Reid said. “So if it's not right, we're always going to go on that, particular with him. He's always been a guy that you can't hold back.”