The Chiefs fell one game short of the AFC Championship Game the last two seasons and return essentially the same team in 2017.
So to go farther this year, it’s safe to assume the Chiefs will be counting on individual improvement from several players. The offseason practices that started this week, called organized team activities, are non-contact, glorified scrimmages without pads. But they do, to some degree, provide players an opportunity to build the kind of chemistry that sometimes leads to better on-field cohesion.
So on Thursday, Chiefs coach Andy Reid was asked directly if he had any concern that three of his brightest defensive stars — safety Eric Berry, outside linebacker Justin Houston and cornerback Marcus Peters — have not shown up for the first three of 10 OTA practices.
“I just coach the guys that are here — that’s what I do,” Reid said. “So the guys that are here are hungry for reps, and that will do nothing but help us.”
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Reid, however, said he had a “pretty good idea” that Berry wouldn’t be present. Same goes for Houston and Peters.
“It’s voluntary, so they can be here or not be here, it’s up to them,” Reid said. “I knew about all of them.”
When asked if Berry — and presumably the others, as well — gave specific reasons for missing OTAs, Reid stuck with the standard line.
“Voluntary camp,” Reid said. “That’s all I can tell you.”
Berry and Houston have each missed OTAs before. Houston missed the previous three years because of knee issues and dissatisfaction with his contract, while Berry missed the previous two years while he fought lymphoma in 2015 and angled for a new contract in 2016. Houston made the Pro Bowl in 2014 and set a club record for single-season sacks with 22, but has been slowed by injuries the last two seasons. Berry has made both the Pro Bowl and All-Pro teams after skipping OTAs the last two years.
Peters, 24, has never missed OTAs before this year, but only he and Berry made the Pro Bowl and All-Pro teams in 2015 and 2016.
Unlike OTAs, players are required to attend the club’s three-day mandatory minicamp, which is June 14-16.