'I just wanted to play with my brother': Elliott Berry on signing with KC Chiefs
Elliott Berry walked into the interview room to double-takes.
The physical resemblance to older brother Eric Berry is uncanny, down to his mannerisms, how he wears his beard and the way he speaks in short sentences.
“Looks just like his brother — body, head ... you look over there, it’s almost spooky,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said.
What advice did Eric have for Elliott?
“Stay sharp and be focused all the time,” Elliott Berry said.
Elliott Berry and 68 other rookies wrapped up three days of mini-camp on Monday. The younger Berry was among 43 players invited to try out and line up with the team's six drafted players, 14 rookie free agents and a handful of other players who had been with the team previously but were still eligible for this camp.
Like most who tried out, Berry is a longshot to make the Chiefs, with no guarantee past the camp. But he’s hopeful that his skills that helped him record 16 tackles for loss over his final two seasons at Tennessee will help him catch the coaching staff’s eye and translate well on tape.
He lined up at safety this week but played outside linebacker and special teams over a 43-game career with the Vols, the Berrys' unofficial family school. Knoxville was the choice of Elliott, twin brother Evan, Eric, who was a Thorpe Award winner, and their father, James, who was a running back from 1978-81.
Elliott wants to continue the family bond with the Chiefs. He has been paying attention to Kansas City since Eric joined the team in 2010, and he has watched his brother’s incredible career that has included five Pro Bowl seasons and three as an All-Pro.
Also on the Eric Berry resume: surgery to repair a torn Achilles that kept him from playing in all but the opening game last season, and his remarkably productive 2015 season after overcoming Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Elliott has observed it all with a young brother’s admiration.
“I knew he was always resilient,” Elliott Berry said. “Never really scared of anything. But after that experience, it kind of showed me how really, really resilient he was.”
The seven-year age difference means Elliott and Eric have never been on the same team. But twins Elliott and Evan had always been teammates ... that is, until rookie camp. Evan, a defensive back and return specialist in college, signed a free-agent contract with the Cleveland Browns.
General manager John Dorsey, formerly with the Chiefs, brought in Evan as a wide receiver.
“We didn’t talk about it, but we knew it (separation) was going to happen at one point,” Elliott said.
Both brothers are now looking to reach the same spot as their older brother: a spot on an NFL roster. They’re doing it the hard way, as undrafted players. Eric was the fifth overall selection in the 2010 NFL Draft.
The Chiefs have found safeties in the draft the past three years, including last month in fourth-round choice Armani Watts from Texas A&M, who missed the final two days of mini-camp while resting a bruised shoulder.
On Monday, Elliott Berry got snaps with the defensive starters in seven-on-seven drills.
He was eager to make his mark.
“That’s why I’m here,” Berry said. “I’m taking advantage of the opportunity I have.”