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Chiefs' Berry preparing for changes at safety

The SportsXchange

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- It seems the only constant in the National Football League is change and Kansas City Chiefs safety Eric Berry has experienced quite a bit of that in four seasons in the league.

There's the departure of the general manager (Scott Pioli) that selected him in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft, along with the head coach (Todd Haley) and defensive coordinator (Romeo Crennel) he found when he showed up at Arrowhead Stadium as a rookie.

Now, the three-time Pro Bowler is dealing with another change. The guy who played beside him on the backline of the defense is gone. Kendrick Lewis was also a 2010 draft choice and he moved into the free safety slot as a rookie while Berry became the starter at strong safety. With the exception of injuries, they were on the field together for four seasons.

But the Chiefs made no real attempt to re-sign Lewis in the offseason and he landed in Houston. Berry remains in Kansas City, getting used to a new partner at safety in Husain Abdullah and also adjusting to his expanded role in making sure the rest of the defensive players are lined up in the right place. That used to be Lewis' job and he did that quite well.

Now, Berry inherits most of those duties. It also means that defensive coordinator Bob Sutton plans to use him more often at free safety than in his usual role of playing in the box and essentially being a linebacker in the Chiefs' nickel and dime defensive packages.

"It's exciting because that's what I was accustomed to doing (at Tennessee)," Berry said of lining up at the back of the defense. "We are all prepared to be wherever they need us to be. We try to work and know all the moving parts.

"Just in talking to coach (Andy Reid), he wants me to be the guy that knows what's going on, make sure I'm stepping up and holding myself and my teammates accountable."

Abdullah was also a free agent after the 2013 season, but the Chiefs moved quickly to sign him after he played so well last year in sub-defenses and on special teams. He returned an interception for a touchdown against Oakland and started in the playoffs against Indianapolis and had six tackles and two interceptions of Colts quarterback Andrew Luck.

His intelligence has impressed Berry as they go through the offseason OTA sessions.

"His work ethic and his attention to detail; I can learn something from him," Berry said. "He's very particular in his techniques and I pay close attention to him and take note of as many things as I can.

"We are working every day, not just on the field but outside of football as well. It's not just him; it's everybody in the secondary. We are trying to build the chemistry. I have to know where he's going to be and he has to know where I'm going to be."
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