Chiefs on the mend: Three return, but what to expect?


As the Kansas City Chiefs prepare to break camp and eyes turn towards the 2015 season, we can only hope our beloved Chiefs start this season off in better fashion then they did the season previous. Not only did the Chiefs lose to the Tennessee Titans, which still defies certain levels of logic, they lost two important members of their defense, linebacker Derrick Johnson and defensive lineman Mike DeVito.

Later on in the season, as has been well documented, Eric Berry was forced to leave the team to battle and conquer cancer in the immediate aftermath of the Chiefs bizarre defeat at the hands of the Oakland Raiders. Today, lets take a moment to discuss our expectations for these three players as we get the wheels rolling on the preseason.

We’ll start in reverse order. Expectations for Berry should be low. Very low. Yes, he’s amazed everyone with both his attitude fighting cancer and the speed for which he’s come back, but, remember, it was cancer he was working to defeat. After being away from the team and the game for as long as he was, and enduring what he endured, it’s hard to imagine a situation in the 2015 season in which Berry is a big contributor.

While it wouldn’t surprise anyone, this columnist included, to see Berry exceeding expectations, it’s hard to really have high expectations. Even in his press conference when he announced he was returning, Berry commented about the issues he was having with some nerves and issues in his arm. The physical toll chemotherapy can be. As the preseason plays out, we’ll get a better read on just what the Chiefs believe Berry’s potential to contribute this upcoming season. Lets however make sure to take a moment to appreciate just what he’s accomplished already.

Secondly, we’ll take a look at DeVito, returning after missing all but some snaps in Chiefs aforementioned loss to the Titans. Of the three players discussed here, DeVito is the player viewed by this columnist as least likely to return to the team for the final season, which may be the reason DeVito restructured his deal, helping to ensure his return.

He’ll have competition with fellow returning lineman Mike Catapano, along with Allen Bailey, Jaye Howard, rookie Rakeem Nunez-Roches and others. The loss of Dontari Poe is magnified if DeVito can’t return from his Achilles injury. DeVito’s primary role is generally to push the pocket and play the run, so expecting DeVito to return to his pre injury level, or close to it, shouldn’t be that far off. Whether or not he starts may depend more on the development and talent along the line. Probably safe to expect another season of solid effort and work from the former Maine Black Bear.

Johnson is the last player we’ll take a look at. Should be noted, many a people, this columnist included,  were concerned about his return, as the track record of players returning to form from Achillies injuries in their 30’s is limited. However, by all accounts, Derrick Johnson appears to have regained his form and is ready to kick some tail. And even if he’s off a little bit from previous seasons, Johnson’s play should still be at a high enough level to be a solid contributor this season.

I’m excited about seeing just what Johnson can do, and how he’ll look by the time the team is ready to head to Houston to kick off the 2015 season. It should also be noted, Johnson is closing in on the Chiefs career tackle record, just 14 short of former Chiefs linebacker Gary Spani. we should  look forward to seeing Johnson break the record this season.

As we look forward to the season, we will all probably be surprised by what Berry is able to accomplish this season, and look forward to seeing DeVito contribute to the run defense. And lastly, lets all appreciate seeing one of the better linebackers we’ve seen in along time with the Chiefs break records and cheer on Johnson.

“Fear nothing, attack everything” – Eric Berry