Arrowhead Stadium is going to be louder than normal on Thursday when Eric Berry makes his first start for the Chiefs in 2018.
The fans have waited for the moment. His teammates and coaches have waited for this moment. Eric Berry himself has been anticipating this moment. And now all of Chiefs Kingdom will celebrate on Thursday night as the team’s defensive heart and star safety will make his first start since Week 1 of the 2017 NFL season.
Ian Rapoport has the word that Berry will indeed start on Thursday for the Chiefs against the visiting Los Angeles Chargers in an all-important showdown for AFC West supremacy. The Chiefs hold the edge in a number of ways, but the Chargers have kept pace with the AFC’s best overall team and now have a chance for revenge on the road in a game that could be very important for home field advantage and a first-round postseason bye.
Berry’s return has been long awaited for the entire year, given that he’s been termed “day to day” by head coach Andy Reid for months on end. Berry was kept out of practice on August 12 for a sore heel and he’s never returned since as the Chiefs have waited on Berry to be able to come back, citing pain tolerance as the primary issue and that they didn’t want to bring the All-Pro back only to lose him quickly because it was forced.
For Berry, it’s been a very, very long time (30 games) since his last meaningful NFL snap. He tore his Achilles in Week 1 of the 2017 season against the New England Patriots and lost the rest of that season to the rehab required to return from it. This offseason he was healthy but then a heel issue crept in and kept him from ever making it onto the field.
The Chiefs defense will be interesting to watch to see how they rotate players in. The team tried to remake much of the secondary this offseason by releasing Ron Parker and drafting Armani Watts alongside a complete turnover of the cornerbacks on the roster. However, injuries in the preseason to Berry and Dan Sorensen, the presumed starters at safety, forced further moves, including re-signing Parker and adding Jordan Lucas from the Miami Dolphins.
Berry was the Chiefs first-round pick in the 2010 NFL Draft and is a five-time Pro Bowl player, a three-time All-Pro performer and a former NFL Comeback Player of the Year.