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Behind Enemy Lines: How Will Chiefs Account For Loss Of Eric Berry?


The Eagles travel to Kansas City on Sunday to take on an explosive Chiefs team that beat the New England Patriots in the NFL Kickoff event last Thursday. Arrowhead Stadium is one of the toughest places to play in the NFL, but the Eagles have won three of their four matchups there. Can the Eagles make it four out of five? For insight into the opponent, we got behind enemy lines with Blair Kerkhoff who covers the Chiefs for The Kansas City Star. You can follow him on Twitter at **@blairkerkhoff**.

1. How will the team account for the loss of Eric Berry?

Kerkhoff: "With difficulty.

"For a player who has been as honored as Berry - three-time All-Pro, five-time Pro Bowler - he remains somewhat under the radar as a defensive force. At least to me. I thought he should have been the Defensive Player of the Year last season. He was outstanding against the Patriots in coverage against Rob Gronkowski last week before the injury.

"Two Chiefs will see their responsibilities increase. Daniel Sorensen is a reliable veteran who has been listed behind Berry on the depth chart but he has a role as the team's third safety. He lines up as a linebacker when the Chiefs use their dime personnel in certain passing situations.

"The real spotlight falls on Eric Murray, a second-year pro. The Chiefs moved him from corner to safety this season after a big year on special teams as a rookie. Also, the Chiefs signed fifth-year pro Steven Terrell to take Berry's roster spot. Terrell filled in for Earl Thomas in Seattle last season and finished with 26 tackles.

"This is a tough loss for the Chiefs. Berry is a heart and soul guy."

2. How does the offensive game plan change with Kareem Hunt's outstanding debut?

Kerkhoff: "We are wondering the same thing. Hunt was a bigger part of the first-week game plan than anyone expected, and a (regional) Sports Illustrated cover later ...

"He flashed his potential in Training Camp and the preseason games, especially when it came to running with toughness and strength. But nobody expected a 246-yard debut. His pass receiving skills didn't come out of the blue but had one touchdown catch in four years at Toledo and two against the Patriots. But he doesn't have to be the offensive centerpiece, not with Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce capable of big numbers. The Chiefs had only one 100-yard rushing game last season. The team went into this season without a Pro Bowl running back on the roster for the first time in nearly two decades (Priest Holmes, Larry Johnson, Jamaal Charles). One game in, it appears the streak could continue."

The Eagles prepare to take on the Chiefs in Week 2. Take a look at some of their key players to watch.

3. Bennie Logan was a third-round draft pick of the Eagles in 2013. How has he adapted to the Chiefs' defensive scheme?

Kerkhoff: "He had a nice debut last week. He was in on a pair of fourth-and-1 stops that changed the game's tone. He's missed practice time this week with a knee injury but worked out on Thursday.

"The Chiefs see Logan as an important piece of an area that needed shoring up after last season. The Chiefs ranked 26th against the run and were crushed by Le'Veon Bell in the playoffs last season. The Chiefs signed him just before losing Dontari Poe, a former Pro Bowl tackle who had been slowed by a back injury.

"Logan put a smile on the faces of reporters at Training Camp when he said his objective was to 'try my best to pretty much embarrass the guy in front of me.' I'm not sure that's happened this year, but the Chiefs are happy with him and the position group that also added Roy Miller, and got back Allen Bailey (missed 11 games with injury last season) to returning players Chris Jones and Rakeem Nunez-Roches."

4. Marcus Peters was a polarizing prospect in 2015. Why has he thrived in Kansas City?

Kerkhoff: "He would have thrived anywhere. The Chiefs pride themselves on the homework they do on prospects who have had team or legal issues. Peters qualifies here. He is enormously talented – 14 picks over the previous two years, tops the NFL - and the Patriots did not throw his way last week.

"He plays with the toughness required of the position and the emotion that sometimes costs him. Twice last season, he punted a ball into the stands after an interception and got penalized once for it. The loss of Eric Berry will be a test for Peters. Berry is a guiding force not only for the team and defense but for Peters as well.

"For the first time, Peters will be the leader in the defensive backfield. We're interested here in how he handles the responsibility."

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