Eric Berry

Eric Berry Likely To Need Offseason Surgery

Though he is slated to return to the field for today’s AFC Championship matchup with the Patriots, Chiefs safety Eric Berry is likely headed for offseason surgery on his heel, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport tweets

Sidelined by the injury for the majority of the season, the three-time First Team All-Pro selection has been limited to just two games this season and hasn’t played since a Week 16 tilt vs. the Seahawks. He will give it a go today, however, hoping to fight through the pain to deliver Kansas City to the Super Bowl for the first time since the 1969 season.

Earlier in the season, Berry was diagnosed with a Haglund’s deformity in the achilles. NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo gave a synopsis of the issue in late September:

“He’s got what’s called a Haglund’s deformity in that Achilles,” Garafolo said. “That’s a bone spur that basically digs into the Achilles. Shaun O’ Hara, our colleague at NFL Network, he had it. I spoke to him this week. He said it is extremely painful. He actually used a more colorful word that I won’t use here.”

Should he undergo the surgery, a timetable for his recovery will be available at a later date.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Titans, Roman, Kingsbury

Matt LaFleur‘s defection to Green Bay leaves Tennessee without an offensive coordinator. They have not conducted any known interviews and are operating deliberately. GM Jon Robinson and Mike Vrabel have met several times this week discussing what the best course of action should be, so interviews are likely coming soon. Whichever way the Titans go, they will be asking Marcus Mariota to learn a fourth offensive system in his five-year career. Ken Whisenhunt ran the Titans’ offense in 2015, before being fired, then Mike Mularkey took over before giving way to LaFleur. Robinson appears to want to retain some of LaFleur’s concepts, however.

I think if that can happen so that there is some carry-over, some familiarity there, so that not just Marcus but all of our players on offense, the less that we have to put on their plate to learn the different terminology, the different concepts, if there’s carry-over, then I think they can build upon what they’ve kind of gone through the last year,” Robinson said, via Eric Bacharach of The Tennesseean. “So we’ll do our best to try to keep as much continuity as possible carrying over into the offseason and certainly into next season.”

Here is the latest from the AFC:

  • Eric Berry, Spencer Ware and Malik Hooker are out for today’s ChiefsColts divisional-round game. Berry is still dealing with the heel trouble that has sidetracked his career, and Ware is out with a hamstring malady. Hooker started against the Texans but missed practice this week with a foot ailment.
  • The Ravens’ Greg Roman promotion partially stemmed from ensuring he would not accept another OC role in the AFC East. The Dolphins sought the former Bills offensive coordinator for their OC role, Albert Breer of SI.com tweets. HC frontrunner Brian Flores had Roman on his staff list. Another name to pop up on Flores’ early list: Kliff Kingsbury. The now-Cardinals HC appears to have had a path to Miami as Flores’ play-caller, Breer adds (on Twitter). But despite his sub-.500 Texas Tech record, Kingsbury received a much bigger promotion than the Dolphins had in mind.
  • Jets staffer Tyler Tettleton will join the Browns as an offensive quality control coach, per Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports (on Twitter). Tettleton was a graduate assistant at Oklahoma for two years during Baker Mayfield‘s tenure in Norman.

Injury Notes: Watkins, Berry, Chiefs, Cowboys

Chiefs wide receiver Sammy Watkins is expected to play in today’s divisional playoff game against the Colts, reports ESPN’s Adam Schefter (via Twitter). The wideout was listed as questionable with a foot injury.

The 25-year-old had only appeared in a single game since injuring his foot in Week 9, but he was able to practice throughout the week. When healthy, Watkins has managed to play a relatively big role in the Chiefs offense. In 10 games (nine starts) this season, the receiver had hauled in 40 receptions for 519 yards and three touchdowns.

With Watkins back in the mix, Chris Conley and Kelvin Benjamin will find themselves sliding down the depth chart.

Let’s take a look at some more injury notes from around the NFL…

  • While Watkins is set to play today, it sounds like one of his teammates will not. NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport tweets that Chiefs safety Eric Berry isn’t likely to play today against the Colts. The veteran has been dealing with injuries throughout the season, with a heel ailment being his latest issue. After playing in only one regular season game in 2017, the 30-year-old has been limited to only a pair of games in 2018, compiling 11 tackles. If there’s any silver lining, the Chiefs were reportedly preparing for Berry to miss today’s contest, as they adjusted their defensive packages to not include the veteran (via NFL.com’s Adam Maya).
  • The Cowboys are “cautiously optimistic” that both wideout Cole Beasley and tight end Blake Jarwin will be ready to play in tonight’s playoff matchup against the Rams, tweets Rapoport. Neither player practiced this week, and they’re both listed as questionable. However, Schefter tweets that the plan is for “both to work out pregame and both be active.” Beasley, who has been dealing with an ankle injury, had one of his best offensive seasons in 2017, compiling 65 catches for 672 yards and three touchdowns. Meanwhile, Jarwin emerged late in the season, including a Week 17 contest where he had seven receptions for 119 yards and three scores.
  • We heard last night that Colts receiver Ryan Grant and defensive end Tyquan Lewis will not suit up for today’s matchup against the Chiefs.

Injury Notes: Brown, Wallace, Berry, Bolts

As the Steelers enter their must-win (plus-help-required) Week 17 scenario, their best player is not certain to be available. Antonio Brown missed three practices this week and is questionable for Sunday’s game against the Bengals. The four-time All-Pro is undergoing tests on his injured knee, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets. Brown has not missed a game this season. While Pittsburgh would be favored to beat Cincinnati at home without Brown, two-time reigning AFC North champions have not exactly been bastions of consistency this season or in recent years. The Steelers can clinch their fifth straight playoff berth with a win and a Ravens home loss to the Browns.

Here’s the latest on the injury front, shifting to one of Brown’s former teammates:

  • Although the Eagles surprisingly brought Mike Wallace back onto their 53-man roster without the usual IR-return practice routine, the deep threat will not play against the Redskins on Sunday. Philadelphia declared Wallace out because of his ankle injury, making the team’s move to activate him strictly for the playoffs. To make the playoffs, Philadelphia needs to beat Washington and have Chicago stop Minnesota. Wallace is not signed past this season, so it’s now possible he will end his Eagles tenure having played in only two games.
  • The Chargers are assured of a playoff spot, making a possible Hunter Henry cameo more likely. It might occur as soon as next week. Tom Telesco did not rule out his top tight end being ready to return before a possible wild-card game, per Eric Williams of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Henry participated in seven-on-seven drills with the Bolts on Friday, Williams tweets, doing so after being confined to individual work last week. The Chargers designated Henry to return from IR on Dec. 17, so they have until the divisional round — if their season extends that far — to make a call on Henry.
  • Eric Berry cannot shake his troublesome heel ailment. The three-time All-Pro Chiefs safety continues to battle this issue, Andy Reid said, via the Kansas City Star’s Brooke Pryor (on Twitter). Berry has been on a snap count (99 in two games) since making his season debut in Week 15, and Reid did not commit to Berry playing Sunday against the Raiders.
  • Ahead of the Texans‘ pivotal Week 17 game, Lamar Miller will return. Bill O’Brien said his top running back is “good to go” against the Jaguars. Miller missed much of the past two games with a sprained ankle. The Jags are unlikely to have Leonard Fournette available, with the second-year back listed as doubtful.

Chiefs’ Eric Berry To Play Vs. Chargers

Finally, Eric Berry is ready to take the field. The Chiefs’ three-time All-Pro safety will play on Thursday night vs. the Chargers, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (via Twitter). 

[RELATED: NFL Doesn’t Plan To Make Changes After Kareem Hunt Incident]

Berry has not seen the field since Week 1 of the 2017 season when he ruptured his left Achilles. Then, this year, he developed a heel problem on his right foot. Berry was diagnosed with Haglund’s deformity, an issue that causes pain in the Achilles area. In late November, Berry was finally cleared to practice with his teammates for the first time since training camp. On Wednesday, he got the long-awaited go-ahead to play.

The Chiefs have enjoyed a phenomenal year, even without their star safety. The 11-2 squad will be only stronger with Berry back out on the field and could push the defense closer to the unreal production of the offensive unit.

The Chiefs’ defense has allowed the third most total yards of any team in the NFL (5,325) while surrendering the most passing yards (3,663). Berry, who has three All-Pro nods and five Pro Bowl selections to his credit, could go a long way towards tamping down those numbers.

Unfortunately for the Chiefs, they still won’t be at full strength for their big game against the Chargers. Running back Spencer Ware is doubtful, according to Field Yates of ESPN.com (on Twitter), and wide receiver Sammy Watkins has been officially ruled out. Running back Damien Williams is in line to start in place of Ware and the Chiefs will once again rely heavily on Tyreek Hill to pick up the slack at wide receiver.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

La Canfora’s Latest: Paton, Coughlin, McCarthy

Vikings assistant GM George Paton has seen his name come up a great deal over the past couple of years as rival clubs sought new general managers, and Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports writes that Paton remains one of the top candidates for teams that will be looking for a GM in 2019. The fact that Paton has withdrawn his name from consideration for GM jobs in the past have suggested to some that he does not want to leave Minnesota, but La Canfora says Paton is indeed open to taking over a franchise next year. Although he declined to interview with the Dolphins in the past, Miami would be a potential landing spot if the team were to make front office changes this offseason.

Now for more from La Canfora’s typically abundant supply of Sunday reports:

  • There have been rumblings that Jaguars team president Tom Coughlin could return to the sidelines and become Jacksonville’s head coach (again) in 2019. La Canfora noted last week that Coughlin could take over as the Jags’ HC, and the fact that the team’s 2018 campaign has been tarnished by fights, suspensions, and lack of discipline could convince Coughlin, a noted disciplinarian, to take the reins. JLC says that there is a “growing perception” around the league that Coughlin will at least consider that move.
  • It has been obvious for some time that 2018 would be Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie‘s last year with the team, and La Canfora reaffirmed as much this morning. In addition to their GM, the Raiders will also be replacing several other members of their scouting and football operations staff, per La Canfora.
  • The Chiefs and Chargers will play each other in a pivotal Week 15 bout this Thursday. La Canfora tweets that Kansas City safety Eric Berry and Los Angeles running back Melvin Gordon will both be on the field for that game, although both are inactive today.
  • La Canfora confirms that former Packers head coach Mike McCarthy will be “very judicious” about his next opportunity and may not return to the sidelines in 2019 if the right opportunity does not present itself. We have already heard that the Jets‘ opening may not be especially appealing to McCarthy, and although his connection with Cleveland GM John Dorsey has led to plenty of speculation that McCarthy could take over as the Browns‘ HC, La Canfora says the Panthers and Ravens gigs — should they open up — are more intriguing to McCarthy. Sources close to McCarthy say they do not expect him to land in Cleveland.
  • Former Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt is undergoing counseling for anger management and alcohol use, and he is also being mentored by a pastor and attending women’s group sessions as he attempts to prove to the league that he is ready for another opportunity. La Canfora says that no one is expected to sign Hunt until the league announces his suspension for three separate incidents, but that several teams have already reached out to him and will continue to monitor his progress and recovery. JLC’s sources say they expect Hunt to play in 2019, and Hunt himself is reportedly eager to assist the league in its investigations.

Eric Berry To Return To Practice

The Chiefs appear to be on the verge of receiving a much-needed defensive boost. Eric Berry‘s rumored practice return will commence on Wednesday, Andy Reid said.

This will mark the first time the three-time All-Pro safety’s practiced in more than 3 1/2 months. Afflicted with Haglund’s deformity, a heel condition, Berry has not been able to work out with his teammates since training camp.

While the 29-year-old dynamo is not out of the woods yet, with setback avoidance a key component in a return to game action, this is a major step. The Chiefs did not place Berry on IR this season. He can play in Sunday’s game against the Raiders if that’s the course of action the Chiefs believe is prudent. That may be pushing it, given what Berry’s been through, but no setbacks would put him en route to come back soon.

Kansas City currently resides atop the AFC. This franchise has not earned home-field advantage since Marty Schottenheimer‘s penultimate season, 1997, and has not qualified for a Super Bowl in 49 years. The Chiefs did not make any moves prior to the trade deadline, and as the football-following world witnessed in the electric 54-51 loss to the Rams, their defense needs all the help it can get. This would qualify as a significant on-field addition.

The Chiefs signed Berry to a safety-record six-year, $78MM contract in the 2017 offseason but have only seen him play in one game since that deal was finalized. Berry ruptured his Achilles’ tendon in Week 1 of last season. This heel condition affects his other foot.

This wouldn’t even qualify as Berry’s most improbable return, obviously, with the former No. 5 overall pick having surmounted cancer earlier in his career. He returned in 2015 to post back-to-back first-team All-Pro campaigns.

Kansas City boasts a considerable DVOA advantage over the second-best team, doing so despite carrying this metric’s No. 25-rated defense. Berry would be the second safety to return to action after a lengthy absence, with Daniel Sorensen coming off IR earlier this month.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Rumors: Dalton, Gordon, Berry

It’s been a rough November for the Bengals, who have tumbled off the No. 6 seed line on “If the season ended today” graphics. Now, the 5-6 team may be facing the prospect of playing its first game without Andy Dalton in three years. The longtime Cincinnati starter left Sunday’s loss to the Browns early because of a thumb injury, but Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets initial tests did not reveal a break. Dalton will undergo further examination, but it appears the eighth-year starter avoided serious injury. His status for Week 13 is uncertain, however. The Bengals did not invest much resources in at backup quarterback this year, going with Jeff Driskel after the departure of A.J. McCarron. A former UDFA, Driskel entered today’s game having thrown seven career passes — all this season. He would be in line to face the Broncos next week if Dalton can’t go.

Here’s the latest from the AFC:

  • Melvin Gordon might not be as fortunate. The Chargers‘ explosive starter may see his All-Pro bid put on hold because of a knee injury he sustained Sunday. Gordon left the Bolts’ win over the Cardinals because of an MCL malady, Eric Williams of ESPN.com reports (on Twitter). Gordon will undergo additional evaluation on Monday, but Williams notes there’s a real possibility the top-tier running back won’t be able to go next week against the Steelers. An MCL tear would put the rest of Gordon’s regular season in jeopardy. Gordon was battling a hamstring injury this week but suited up and scored twice before leaving the game.
  • The Chiefs have waited for months for Eric Berry to show progress, and it looks to finally be happening. After a report previously indicated the three-time All-Pro safety was close to returning to practice for the first time in three-plus months, Rapoport tweets the Chiefs indeed expect Berry to practice this week. Berry’s dealing with Haglund’s deformity, a heel ailment, and hasn’t practiced since training camp. Since signing his $13MM-per-year extension, Berry’s played in just one game. But the Chiefs did not place him on IR this season and clearly believe a return could well happen soon.
  • Baltimore is 2-0 in Lamar Jackson‘s starts and may not be ready to return to Joe Flacco when he’s healthy again.

Eric Berry Nearing Return

All year long, the Chiefs have been insisting that All-Pro safety Eric Berry will play this season as he battles back from a bone spur condition known as Haglund’s deformity. Berry also missed all but one game last season as a result of a torn Achilles, but Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports says there is finally a light at the end of the tunnel and that Berry could return for Kansas City’s Week 13 matchup against the Raiders.

Berry has yet to return to practice and will not play against the Rams tomorrow night, but the team has a Week 12 bye before heading out to Oakland, and Berry could return to the practice field during that time. The Chiefs have established themselves as legitimate Super Bowl contenders thanks to a dynamic offense led by wunderkind quarterback Patrick Mahomes, but the defense — specifically the secondary — has struggled all season. Kansas City was very much interested in trading for the Seahawks’ Earl Thomas to shore up that unit before Thomas suffered a season-ending injury, but Berry’s return would also be a major boost, even if he does not immediately look like his old self.

Top pass rusher Justin Houston also recently returned to the lineup, and he and Berry give the Chiefs two legitimate playmakers in the middle and back end of their defense, which they will probably need to make a deep playoff run.

Berry is also one of the most respected members of the organization, so his return could provide a more intangible leadership boost as well. In addition to all of his on-field accomplishments, he famously overcame a 2014 cancer diagnosis to re-emerge as a First-Team All-Pro in 2015 and 2016.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC West Notes: Raiders, Cooper, Conley, Broncos, Keenum, Chiefs, Berry

There’s been several high profile names rumored to be trade candidates over the past week, including Raiders receiver Amari Cooper. It was reported earlier today that the Raiders were shopping the former first round pick, but now coach Jon Gruden is pushing back on those reports.

“I’m not. I’m not. I’m just sorry to have to deal with a lot of these reports” Gruden insisted when asked about the reports saying he wanted to get rid of Cooper, according to Scott Bair of NBC Sports (Twitter link). Cooper was injured in the Raiders’ loss to the Seahawks after taking a nasty hit and was diagnosed with a concussion. He’s in the last year of his rookie deal but has a fifth-year option for next year, meaning any team that traded for him would have control of him in 2019. Gruden also previously insisted he wasn’t trying to trade Khalil Mack, so perhaps his denials should be taken with a grain of salt.

Here’s more from the AFC West:

  • Case Keenum had another rough game, prompting reporters to ask coach Vance Joseph after the game if Keenum would remain the starter for the Broncos. Joseph answered affirmatively, saying “Case is our quarterback”, according to Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic (Twitter link). Keenum left for one play to be evaluated for a concussion, and the home crowd gave backup Chad Kelly a standing ovation. With the Broncos a sinking ship and Joseph on the hot seat, it wouldn’t be surprising if Kelly gets a look at some point.
  • Speaking of Oakland, the Raiders have benched their 2017 first round pick, cornerback Gareon Conley, playing him on zero defensive snaps in their Week 6 loss. Conley could be a possible trade target, according to Mike Garafolo of NFL Network, who tweets that “teams looking to buy low on Conley will be calling.” Gruden has shown a willingness to get rid of high-profile players, and it wouldn’t be surprising if the team gives up on Conley despite his limited time on the field. He missed most of his rookie season due to injury.
  • Chiefs All-Pro safety Eric Berry has mysteriously missed every game this season without much of an update from the team, and he is still without a timetable for a return, according to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports. Sources told La Canfora that the team is “extremely confident that he will play this season”, but no one seems to know when and the team will continue to “exude extreme caution” handling him. The Chiefs defense has been a liability this season, and would get a massive boost from Berry’s return.