St. Joseph, Mo. – Eric Berry wanted to get the most from Tuesday’s joint practice with the Cardinals, so he sought out Arizona’s best player.
It didn’t matter if Berry had to line up as an outside defender and play like a cornerback. He couldn’t pass on the challenge of manning up against Larry Fitzgerald during one-on-one drills with Cardinals wide receivers.
“I just went out there and I figured I’d get a taste,” said Berry. “He’s one of the best at what he does. Me, I thrive off competition and love a challenge. Shoot, why not go out there? He’s one of the best players in the league.”
A sore foot kept Brandon Flowers out of practice anyway, so it wasn’t as if Berry had to fend off a number one corner looking for a matchup against a number one receiver. The one-on-one battles were Berry’s for the taking and the third-year safety lined up across from Fitzgerald during each rotation of the 10-minute matchup period.
“Some of our guys wanted to get out there, but I was just like ‘I’ve got to go do it.’ I just had to get out there and matchup with him just to see,” Berry said cracking a smile.
Berry and Fitzgerald competed three times during the one-on-one period.
It was just the two of them on an island. One spotlight. One quarterback. One football. No help.
“I felt like I did good,” Berry said afterward. “I felt like I was playing ball out there.”
Fitzgerald ultimately won two of the three meetings, but each snap was competitive. Berry’s victory came when he stalemated Fitzgerald’s attempt to cross inside on a slant.
Overall, Fitzgerald walked away impressed with the Chiefs young safety. It was the first time the six-time Pro Bowler had squared off against Berry in a competitive environment. Their only other meeting came in the 2011 Pro Bowl.
“I didn’t know he was that athletic,” Fitzgerald said. “It was the first time I’ve gotten to play against him and he’s an impressive specimen. You’ve got a free safety, strong safety, wide receiver, linebacker, cornerback – he can play any position he wants to with that athleticism.
“More so, I’m excited to see that he’s fully recovered from his injury. He’s bounced back and regained his form.”
Berry’s athleticism is what stood out to Fitzgerald and it’s what captured the attention of most fans watching Berry play man-to-man on an island.
There was Berry, lined up out of his element as a cornerback, putting up three solid battles with one of the best receivers in professional football.
“It just depends on what you define as being out of my element,” Berry said. “Anything that you’re asked to do on the football field, you have to be prepared for.
“Nobody is going to say it’s out of my element if it happens on a Sunday and I’m lined up outside in a cornerback position and they bomb a touchdown. They’ll just say that I got bombed for a touchdown, so I’ve got to be prepared for any possibility out there.”
That’s the attitude that makes Berry so valuable to the Chiefs.
And the interceptions.
And the tackles.
And the leadership.
And the athleticism.