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Eric Berry regains starting job in Chiefs’ base defense

Chiefs strong safety Eric Berry (left) and inside linebacker Derrick Johnson combined for a tackle against the Broncos on Sept. 17.
Chiefs strong safety Eric Berry (left) and inside linebacker Derrick Johnson combined for a tackle against the Broncos on Sept. 17. deulitt@kcstar.com

As if the fact safety Eric Berry played 71 of 73 possible snaps in the Chiefs’ 31-24 loss to the Denver Broncos on Sept. 17 wasn’t a good enough indication, defensive coordinator Bob Sutton confirmed Friday what was long suspected — that Berry is again the starter in the base defense.

“Yeah, I’d say so — I think he did pretty much that the other night,” Sutton said. “I mean we roll so many people through there, half the time I don’t even think about who’s there. A lot of times it matters what the offense runs out with, which group’s going out first.

“But yeah, he’s back, he’s playing all of the time and he’s done a great job.”

Sutton said Berry, who overcame Hodgkin lymphoma this offseason, has been practicing more. Early last season, he missed a healthy chunk of games and practices because of a high ankle sprain and heel issues.

“He’s practiced more this year more than he ever did last year, if you took camp and the whole season,” Sutton said. “I think that’s what allows you to get back in it … I think when you talk to him he sees things better now and he’s more comfortable there. And I think it’s just going to keep getting better and better for him from a comfort standpoint. But I don’t really see a lot different from him.”

Berry, 26, has recorded six tackles this season. His spike in playing time has come at the expense of Husain Abdullah, who saw his defensive snap percentage drop from 86 percent in the opener against Houston to 37 percent in the loss to Denver.

Abdullah, 30, started all 16 games for the Chiefs last year, recording 71 tackles, eight pass deflections and an interception.

Terez A. Paylor: 816-234-4489, @TerezPaylor. Tap here to download the new Red Zone Extra app for iOS and Android devices.

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