Eric Berry: "It's Time To Get Down To Business and Play Ball"

Berry rejoined his teammates at practice on Monday afternoon

One of the major questions surrounding the return of safety Eric Berry to the Kansas City Chiefs Sunday afternoon was whether or not he would be able to put the business aspect of the situation aside.

After the Chiefs and Berry's representatives could not come to an agreement by the deadline for franchise players to sign long-term contracts in mid-July, Berry did not report to training camp in St. Joseph or for any of the first three preseason games.

Berry was definitive with his answer to that looming question Monday morning during his first media opportunity of the 2016 season.

 "It's already aside—once I stepped foot in this building," Berry said. "Everybody in this building knows how I am about business. I handle my business like a professional and aside of that I'm going to give you everything I've got every snap. Regards to whatever happened in the offseason, that's the offseason. Right now it's time to get down to business and play ball."

The hardest part of staying away for Berry was being away from his teammates.

"I love my teammates and I wouldn't trade them for anything," he said. "There was a part of me doing the whole struggling thing. It was definitely hard not to be here, let alone practice, but just not being around them on a daily basis that was kind of tough for me, especially the DBs."

The first people Berry said he saw Sunday afternoon upon arriving to the University of Kansas Hospital Training Complex were the Chiefs quarterbacks. Later in the afternoon, he sat down for a one-on-one meeting with head coach Andy Reid.

"It was all about football," Berry said. "Coach Reid and I have a different type of relationship—just outside of the lines as well. That's something you look for in a coach. We talk about a lot of different things outside of football. Having a conversation with him and being able to see him face to face, that's always good."

Reid, who first announced Berry was back in the building via a conference all on Sunday, knew how important it would be to have Berry back around the defense and team.

"[His teammates] are going to welcome him in with open arms and they'll be glad he's back," Reid said. "He's one of the leaders of the team and that part won't change. The other part was business and now it's football – he's ripping and ready to go."

With business aside, the logistics of Berry returning to the field will rely heavily on how quickly he can get into football shape, which Reid said is the first order of business.

Berry believes he can accomplish that in time for the home opener against the San Diego Chargers on September 11.

A look at some of the top photos of Eric Berry throughout the 2015 season.

"I should be [ready]," he said. "I'm confident in that. The only thing is just getting used to so many bodies flying around—NFL bodies. You try to fill it in with high school players and other people that are around training, but it's different when you have eleven guys on the field that know what they're doing and know where to be. Things tend to move a little faster so just getting that rust knocked off and adjusting quickly."

Defensive coordinator Bob Sutton thinks that can happen, beginning with Berry's first practice of the season on Monday afternoon. The fortunate thing for Berry, Sutton said, was the fact that the 2010 first-round draft pick already has six years of experience under his belt.

"You have a guy that has played a lot of plays in his life," Sutton said. "I really don't think it will be that big of an adjustment for him, so we plan-- as long as he feels good, get him in there as much as he can go and then let him become comfortable and get that reaction, change of direction and all that."

Berry's mentality and attitude, Sutton said, will be the absolute last thing anybody needs to worry about.

"I just can't imagine anybody in the National Football League who has a better outlook on the opportunity to play than him because of what he has been through," he added. "He's always been a guy that was passionate, loves football, and then to be in the position he was a year ago, two years ago now, I just think he's going to be excited to get back out here and do what he really loves to do."

As he spoke to the media Monday morning, Sutton wore his "Be Bold" bracelet, which he has done since Berry left the team in 2014 to begin his battle against Hodgkin's lymphoma.

"I've had it on since then," he said. "It reminds me of how fortunate we are—things can change fast."

For the Chiefs, things have again. After missing nearly the entire preseason, the four-time Pro Bowl safety will be back on the field Monday afternoon—the hard feelings dissipated and the goal abundantly clear. "People don't agree on a lot of things in life period, so that's just a part of it," Berry said. "I just didn't agree with it and the other side didn't agree with it, but at the end of the day we all want to win games. That's the part we agree on. I feel like we have a chance, so we're just going to keep pushing forward to get that done."

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