KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A sea of red will greet the Kansas City Chiefs when they take the field to play the Philadelphia Eagles in their home opener at noon Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium, but there will be one noticeable absence: Eric Berry.
The Pro Bowl safety tore his left Achilles tendon late in the team’s 42-27 win on Sept. 7 at New England and will be out for the season. Chiefs fans have grown accustomed to seeing Berry — who already has overcome a torn ACL and beat cancer — kneel in the end zone for a few moments before heading into the locker room prior to the game.
Berry, however, will not be in uniform, but the team is looking to use his loss as motivation.
“We’re going to rally around each other and support one another because our leader on this defense is gone,” said Chiefs defensive end Chris Jones. “So it’s about bringing us together as a family and how we’re bonding and instilling trust in one another.”
Berry, who shut down Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski in the opener, likely will be replaced in the starting lineup by backup Daniel Sorensen. Sorensen, who was signed by the team in 2014 as an undrafted free agent out of BYU, has appeared in all 16 games the past two years.
Last season, Sorensen had 63 tackles, a sack and three interceptions. He also had three tackles last week against the Patriots.
Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson, who has torn both of his Achilles, knows what Berry is going through all too well.
“I’ll tell you what, we will see Eric Berry pretty soon,” Johnson said. “Nothing is going on much after the surgery. The first two months is just letting the Achilles heal, letting it mend back together. It’s kind of boring.
“You just have to let it heal. It is a patience deal early on. I know he will struggle with that because he wants to get going. But after a couple months, he can start training.”
In the meantime, the Chiefs (1-0) will move forward beginning with Philadelphia (1-0), where Reid coached for 14 years before he was fired and eventually came to Kansas City. Reid is usually pretty subdued, but his players will tell you this game matters a little more to him.
“Coach Reid, he’s just kind of cool about everything,” Jones said. “But I kind of feel that he has that desire, that gut feeling. It’s like a player that gets cut. When you go play that team that cut you, you have that inner desire like, ‘I’m going to beat the brakes off of these boys.’
“You want to put your stomp down. So we have to show up as players and play for Coach Reid and our guy Eric Berry.”
CHIEFS RELEASE SPILLER — The Chiefs on Saturday released running back C.J. Spiller, opening a spot for running back Akeem Hunt on the 53-man roster. Akeem Hunt would be No. 3 on the depth chart behind Kareem Hunt and Charcandrick West but he could see time on special teams.
EAGLES AT CHIEFS
When/Where: Noon, Sunday, Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, Mo.
Records: Philadelphia 1-0, Kansas City 1-0
TV/Radio: KTMJ (27.2), KDVV-FM (100.3)
Line: Kansas City by 5½