Chiefs Pro Bowl free safety Eric Berry is expected to play on Sunday against the New York Jets, his first appearance since suffering a high ankle sprain in week two at Denver.
Coach Andy Reid wouldn’t say what role Berry would play, or whether he would regain his starting position in place of Husain Abdullah, who is the club’s third-leading tackler and has intercepted one pass, returning it 39 yards for a touchdown against New England.
“Eric will play,” Reid said. “We’ll see how he does, see how he feels. The other guy (Abdullah) has done a nice job, and Eric’s getting back in the swing of things, and we’re glad he’s back and available. We’ll see how it all works out.”
The Chiefs would not make Berry available to reporters in the locker room.
Reid said cornerback Jamell Fleming, who has started the last two games, will be out because of a hamstring pull. Backup linebacker Josh Martin (hamstring), cornerback Chris Owens (knee) and wide receiver Donnie Avery (sports hernia) are also out.
Marcus Cooper, who started four games before giving way to Fleming, is the likely starter at left cornerback unless Ron Parker shifts from strong safety to cornerback, where he played in preseason.
“Whatever coaches give me, if they give me an opportunity to get in, I’ll get in,” said Cooper, who started six games last year. “(The Jets) have some great receivers, but we have some great defenders, also.”
Chiefs wary of Vick
Jets quarterback Michael Vick will be making his first start of the season in place of the benched Geno Smith on Sunday, and though he’s 34 years old now, the Chiefs are aware of how dangerous he could be.
When Vick was with the Eagles last season, Vick displayed his athleticism against the Chiefs when he ran four times for 99 yards and completed passes of 40 and 31 yards in Kansas City’s 26-16 win in Philadelphia. The Chiefs sacked him six times and intercepted two passes.
“Oh he’s still a big threat … I wish I could say he wasn’t,” Chiefs defensive coordinator Bob Sutton said. “I think I read that he’s lost a step, but there’s a lot of people who are looking for that step still because he’s dynamic and he can do anything.
“We’re pretty familiar with what he can do. He had some big runs, scrambles against us a year ago. He’s the kind of guy that you can never say, ‘The play is over,’ which puts a lot of pressure on the back-end people because you can rush him, and you’ve got him dead to rights and he can still avoid and get away and extend the play.
“That’s a real problem, and obviously when he gets out in open space, those five yards click off pretty fast still. To us, he’s a real issue. We’ve got to deal with him.”
Vick committed three turnovers — an interception and two fumbles — after replacing Smith in last week’s 43-23 loss to Buffalo. He also fumbled two other times but the Jets recovered.
“Last week I got greedy,” Vick told reporters. “I was trying to play like a 24-year-old Mike Vick.
“Interceptions are going to happen … no quarterback in this league is perfect and I think we all know that. But to fumble the ball … I think that’s something that I’ve got to take care of. Just got to protect the ball.”
Sutton in Ryan’s corner
The Jets have lost seven straight since an opening-day win over the Raiders, and coach Rex Ryan’s job is clearly in jeopardy.
Sutton, who spent 13 years on the Jets staff, believes Ryan’s colorful persona overshadows his coaching ability.
“One of the great things about Rex is that he truly enjoys what he’s doing,” Sutton said. “ He’s such a personality that I think a lot of times I think it goes kind of unnoticed how good of a coach he is. What he’s done with his defensive system speaks for itself. You can see how hard the players play for him, that they respond to him well. He’s got a great way about it.”
The Chiefs’ defensive scheme, in fact, is based on much of what Sutton learned from Ryan with the Jets.
“It’s a lot of what we did in New York and what Rex brought to New York from Baltimore,” Sutton said. “Each system goes off a little bit on its own as you get to a place, a lot of time it’s driven by either what you’re faced with and also what your personnel can do.
“We always think about this system that it has a lot of flexibility. We can play a lot of different ways … that’s one of the real strengths of the system. You kind of push it over to one side or the other based on your players or the issues that you’re facing from the opponent. But a lot of it honestly is driven from what we did in New York.”
The Jets tied for first in the NFL with 18 turnovers and are tied for fifth with 63 penalties, though they are only tied for 11th in average penalties per game because they’ve yet to have the bye week.
“We’re not a bad football team, we just do stupid stuff,” wide receiver Eric Decker told reporters after the Jets were called for 10 penalties for 90 yards and turned the ball over six times.