ST. JOSEPH Will Richardson Jersey , Mo. (AP) Eric Berry has twice overcome season-ending injuries, and the way the Kansas City Chiefs safety came back from a cancer diagnosis to play the following season was nothing short of inspirational.
In other words, Berry has every reason to rue what might have been.
Yet the undisputed leader of the Chiefs secondary would be driven to distraction if he wasted much time feeling sorry for himself.
Instead, Berry preferred to use the two-plus seasons spent on the sideline as a learning opportunity, a chance to better himself mentally and emotionally if not physically.
”I learned so much,” he explained after the Chiefs’ first padded practice of training camp on the fields of Missouri Western State University.
”The whole cancer deal was a privilege, to be honest with you. A blessing. Because I learned so much, and so many people inspired me. Just being to connect with them, the common thread of having cancer and overcoming it, I can’t tell you what it means to me.”
Berry learned similar lessons about overcoming adversity, keeping a positive mindset and focusing on what he could control when he lost seasons to a torn ACL and a ruptured Achilles’ tendon.
The knee injury occurred in 2011, his second year in the league, when he was coming off a breakout rookie year that ended in the Pro Bowl. Berry was blocked low by Buffalo wide receiver Steve Johnson in their season opener and wound up missing the rest of the season.
He returned to make two straight Pro Bowls, and was voted an All-Pro in 2013 Authentic Customized Chiefs Jerseys , the year before his cancer diagnosis. Berry underwent chemotherapy and other treatments and the lymphoma went into remission, and he was back on the field in his familiar No. 29 jersey in time for training camp.
Two more Pro Bowl appearances and two more All-Pro nods followed suit.
Then came last year’s opener in New England, when the Chiefs were busy rolling to a dominant victory over the Patriots. Berry went down with a seemingly innocuous injury that ultimately marred an impressive win when it was revealed that he tore the tendon on the backside of his left ankle.
”My second year, I felt like I was probably the best shape of my life, and I was starting to learn the defense and acclimating to what was going on around me,” Berry said. ”Then the cancer hit when I was getting to my peak, getting to where I needed to be. Same thing last year.
”But you really can’t wonder where you’d be because I learned so much throughout all three of those processes,” he added, ”and I just keep going. I can’t really tell you where I’d be.”
Chances are he’d still be in the middle of the Kansas City secondary.
”I mean, look, Eric’s our leader. We appreciate when he’s out there going, the guys feed off him,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. ”It’s the whole story, the whole thing that he went through Youth Matt Irwin Jersey , the fact that he does everything out here and works his tail off. It’s a phenomenal story.”
The Chiefs are counting on Berry to provide guidance and leadership to a defensive backfield that will have an entirely new look this season. Star cornerback Marcus Peters was traded to the Rams earlier this year in an attempt to improve the locker room culture, and veterans Terrance Mitchell and Ron Parker were let go as new general manager Brett Veach made his mark on the roster.
Kansas City will have a pair of new starters at cornerback – Steven Nelson and Kendall Fuller are the front-runners – along with a new nickel back. And while Daniel Sorensen could reprise his role at one of the safety spots after taking over for Berry last season, there is a good chance athletic and talented rookie Armani Watts could eventually line up at the free safety spot.
”That’s our leader, man. He’s been here the longest and he’s been doing it for a long time at a high level,” Nelson said. ”Just his presence alone, man, it’s motivating.”
Doesn’t matter that the first preseason game is still a couple of weeks away.
”I think it’s a good feeling to see guys who you know are leaders on this team back in their roles, doing what they do,” wide receiver Chris Conley said. ”He has an impact for this team.”
NOTES: RB Kareem Hunt (hamstring) was back at practice Monday after getting a day off, though the team was not in pads. … LB Ukeme Eligwe missed practice with a foot strain. … The Chiefs have their first day off of training camp Tuesday.
EAGAN, Minn. (AP) — The Minnesota Vikings have completed their plan to turn over their kicking duties to rookie Daniel Carlson, releasing veteran Kai Forbath with two weeks remaining in the preseason.
For all the training camp drills and exhibition game extra points the Vikings can give Carlson, there’s no way for him to experience the pressure and scrutiny that comes with the job on a championship-chasing team.
For all the calm the Southeastern Conference’s all-time scoring leader has exhibited around Vikings headquarters since they drafted him out of Auburn in the fifth round in April, there’s no way for them to know how he’ll handle the enormous responsibility until September.
“We’ll just see how it goes Reggie Wayne Jersey ,” coach Mike Zimmer said on Monday after Forbath was let go. “You make your decision, and you live with it.”
Forbath took both field goal tries in Minnesota’s exhibition game on Saturday against Jacksonville and missed one when it hit the right upright. In 25 games with the Vikings, including the playoffs, Forbath made 48 of 56 extra points and 50 of 57 field goals.
He stabilized the position when a struggling Blair Walsh left it in disarray midway through the 2016 season and made his share of clutch kicks, but the 30-year-old never quite found enough of a groove to gain the team’s full trust.
The Vikings were looking for more depth on their kickoffs as well as consistency on field goals and extra points, and the 6-foot-5 Carlson has the stronger leg.
“At the end of the day it’s who can make the important kicks and who the team has confidence in, so I feel really good that the coaches and the staff have entrusted me with that confidence,” Carlson said.
He was quick to credit Forbath for his class in handling a dynamic that could’ve been awkward from the day the Vikings took Carlson with the 167th overall selection. Forbath has kicked for three NFL teams, mostly with Washington.
“Kai’s given me a run for my money, and he’s had a lot of success here and elsewhere. So it was a great competition,” Carlson said, adding: “I wish him nothing but the best, but I’m excited to be staying around here and get ready for the real work.”
The Vikings invested a sixth-round draft pick in Walsh in 2012 and watched him become an All-Pro as a rookie. He never repeated that performance, though Torrey Smith Jersey , and four seasons later the team had no choice but to start fresh. Now they’re counting on not having to make any more changes with the role for many years.
“Every kick’s a pressure kick, and you know your job is going to be on the line and it’s probably going to be decided on a few different kicks,” Carlson said, adding: “You want to be on a winning team. … I’m just going to take that and run with it.”
The game on Saturday was particularly painful for the bottom of the roster, with five players injured and needing assistance off the field. Defensive end Ade Aruna (right knee) was placed on injured reserve on Monday. Offensive lineman Cedrick Lang (right leg) and fullback Johnny Stanton (left leg) were waived with an injured designation, meaning they must clear waivers before being placed on injured reserve. Tight end Josiah Price (right knee) was also waived-injured, after getting hurt in practice last week. The Vikings signed two players to fill open spots, including fullback Kobe McCrary, who played in college at Minnesota.
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