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Chiefs safety Eric Berry’s next step: game action

Kansas City Chiefs strong safety Eric Berry ran back an interception during training camp.
Kansas City Chiefs strong safety Eric Berry ran back an interception during training camp. deulitt@kcstar.com

Eric Berry stepped in front of the pass intended for Jeremy Maclin, grabbed the interception and headed to the end zone, toward a hillside of Chiefs fans who rose in applause.

Berry’s comeback from Hodgkin lymphoma inspires that kind of response. He takes the next step Saturday when the Chiefs open the preseason at Arizona.

“We’re thinking he’s going to play,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “We’ll just see how things go from here. But he’s been going here, so I think he’s ready to get out here and do his thing.”

Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid spoke Wednesday about the tentative game plan for the team's first preseason game in Arizona plus Eric Berry's participation. VIDEO BY DAVID EULITT deulitt@kcstar.com

Last fall, that idea would have seemed far-fetched. Berry was diagnosed in November, after the Chiefs lost at Oakland. There had been no hint of a problem until then, and no word in the subsequent months about Berry’s future as an athlete.

Training camp opened, and there he was, cancer free and ready for football. He eased into full contact drills, and as the workouts progressed, it appeared as if he’d never been gone. He’s been working with the second team at safety, and plays with the starters in passing situations.

“It’s taking him awhile to get his timing down, but I think he’s almost back to normal with his timing,” linebacker Justin Houston said. “He’s been making plays.”

Reid is thrilled Berry is back. How much so? He feigned disgust on Wednesday, the team’s final day at camp until Monday.

“I told him I saw too much of him today because he had a couple of interceptions out here,” Reid said. “Listen, I’m as happy as I can be for him. He’s like a little kid out here playing. He’s having fun. He’s appreciative of everything and everybody that has been with him through this whole ordeal.

“He’s loving life right now, and that’s important. It shows on the field here, too.”

The Chiefs were in awe of his return to the practice field, and they now they’re pulling hard for a three-time Pro Bowler trying to regain his form.

“I think it’s going to be very exciting not just for him but for us to have a guy like that behind you,” Houston said. “Just knowing he’s going to come and play hard, it’s great to have him back.”

Kansas City Star Chiefs beat reporter Terez A. Paylor recaps the Kansas City Chiefs training camp practice on Wednesday morning from Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph.

To reach Blair Kerkhoff, call 816-234-4730 or send email to bkerkhoff@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter @BlairKerkhoff.

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