KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City Chiefs safety Eric Berry was not designated as having an injury in Friday’s practice report, meaning he’ll be able to play in Sunday’s AFC Championship Game against the New England Patriots.
Berry went through a full week of practice, saying “I feel pretty good.”
Said Chiefs defensive lineman Chris Jones: “It’s always great to have Eric Berry back.”
The veteran safety missed all of the preseason and then the first 13 games of the regular season with a sore heel. He returned to play in two games but missed the final regular-season game plus last week’s divisional-round game against the Indianapolis Colts.
“I wanted to go in that game,” Berry said of last week’s absence. “Just a lot of complications that I can’t really explain. … I want to get on the field on Sunday.”
The Chiefs would advance to Super Bowl LIII if they beat the Patriots. That game would be played in Berry’s hometown of Atlanta.
He said that was among the factors motivating him to play.
“That puts a lot on it,” Berry said. “Look at the history behind the [Lamar Hunt] Trophy and look at the organization we’re playing for. That’s great, just to be in this position and have the opportunity. You don’t get these opportunities often. This is my ninth year in the league and this is my first shot at it. I’m going to cherish every moment.”
Before tearing his Achilles tendon last season, Berry played in just one game — a season-opening win over the Patriots. He helped hold tight end Rob Gronkowski to two receptions on six targets.
This season, the Patriots beat the Chiefs 43-40 in Week 6 when Kansas City played without Berry and Justin Houston, another top defensive veteran.
Houston will be available Sunday.
“He has great speed and range,” Chiefs defensive coordinator Bob Sutton said of Berry. “I think he’s our most physical football player. So when you have those qualities you have playmaking ability [and] you have a chance to affect the game.
“The one thing about speed on defense is that it isn’t always the plays you make, it’s sometimes the plays you prevent. He has that ability in him. The other part of it that he brings is the players respond to him. They appreciate all he’s been through and what he’s done here and what kind of player he is.”