Eric Berry is key to replacing Husain Abdullah

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Eric Berry’s potential could be maximized in the Nickel hybrid role. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports
Eric Berry’s potential could be maximized in the Nickel hybrid role. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports /

Berry has incredible versatility as a defender.  His prowess against the run is unquestioned.  He is a sure tackler who locates running lanes and reads the ball carrier extremely well.  He’s proven his ability as a downhill player time and time again.

However, there are those who question Eric Berry’s ability in coverage.  This is due to a narrative taking the place of what actually is happening.  The narrative is based on his lack of interceptions and the perception that he loses a lot in one-on-one coverage.

Since we should all know that grading based on stats is foolish, I’ll just address the latter part of the concerns…there are very few safeties in the NFL who are entrusted to work alone in coverage on a consistent basis.  Berry is an exception to a very strict NFL guideline that safeties provide help in coverage rather than take on the role themselves.  The fact that he’s even left alone that often speaks to his prowess in coverage, especially when it is up against some of the top tight ends in the league.

Despite that, as Brad Ganon points out, he actually excels in coverage…even according to PFF who I am loathe to almost ever agree with.  And in a role where he will be mostly providing short area coverage against flare passes to running backs and quick hitters to tight ends, Berry should excel.

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Of course, as I mentioned earlier, this opens up the spot that Eric Berry normally fills in the Nickel package.  But this is where I believe the Chiefs truly feel Marcus Cooper or Jamell Flemming can be of use.  Similar to how the team once move Ron Parker from cornerback to safety, the same can be done with one or the other of Cooper and Flemming.  This seems to be especially true for Marcus Cooper who drew a lot of praise for his efforts at the safety spot in offseason workouts.

It takes a little bit of ingenuity on the part of Bob Sutton, but ultimately this is one question mark that the Chiefs appear to have an answer for already.  Obviously it remains to be seen in Training Camp and the regular season.  However, I have confidence in the team on this one…after all, it was pretty ingenious to utilize Husain Abdullah in that role in the first place.