Posted on September 8, 2017, by Bryan Zarpentine
The Kansas City Chiefs picked up a big win Thursday night, defeating the New England Patriots in the NFL season opener. But the Chiefs also suffered a loss that’s nearly as big. The team announced on Friday that safety Eric Berry ruptured his left Achilles tendon during Thursday’s win against the Patriots. It’s a devastating loss for the Chiefs.
Berry suffered the injury in the 4th quarter while trying to cover New England tight end Rob Gronkowski. He pulled up on the play while covering Gronkowski and sat down on the field until being taken off on a cart. An MRI performed Friday confirmed Kansas City’s suspicions that Berry had suffered a serious injury to his Achilles tendon.
“You’re not going to replace Eric Berry with another Eric Berry. That’s not what happens,” Chiefs head coach Andy Reid said Friday. “But the guys know that Eric would be disappointed if they left off the accelerator at all. I think we’ll be OK there.”
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This is not the first time Berry has faced adversity or a serious injury during his career. In 2011, he also played just one game before suffering a torn ACL that kept him out for the remainder of the season. Berry came back from that injury and was a Pro Bowler the next two seasons.
Early in the 2014 season, Berry suffered a high-ankle sprain. After retuning from that injury later in the season, Berry complained of chest pain following a game and was ultimately diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a form of cancer.
As most people know, Berry was declared cancer-free less than one year after being diagnosed with cancer. He played in all 16 games during the 2015 season and was named a Pro Bowler in both 2015 and 2016. Last February, Berry and the Chiefs agreed to a six-year, $78 million contract. The deal came with $40 million guaranteed and made him the NFL’s highest-paid safety.
Still just 28 years old, Berry will once again be on the road to recovery. The usual recovery time for a ruptured Achilles tendon is four to six months. It’s all but certain that the Chiefs will put him on injured reserve, ending his 2017 season. However, barring any setbacks or complications, Berry should be able to return for the 2018 season.
As for the Chiefs, they now have to deal with the loss of their defensive leader and one of the most impactful safeties in football.
“I’m on a bit of a low right now,” Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce said about Berry’s injury. “I love him to death. He’s our fearless leader, and to see him go down in the first game breaks your heart.”
Chiefs GM Brett Veach is expected to look outside the organization for a potential replacement. In the meantime, Eric Murray and Daniel Sorensen are the most likely internal options to fill Berry’s shoes, or at least try. Murray was a 6th round pick of Minnesota last year who played sparingly as a rookie, collecting just eight tackles. Sorensen is more established, playing in all 16 games each of the past two seasons. He signed a four-year deal with the Chiefs in March.
Regardless of who ends up taking Berry’s spot, the Chiefs can expect a significant drop off at that position. Berry’s play on the field and his leadership on Kansas City’s defense made him an invaluable player for the Chiefs. Kansas City should have been flying high after beating the Patriots Thursday night. But the loss of Berry will no doubt bring them back down to earth in a hurry.