The improvement in the Kansas City Chiefs' pass defense can be linked, but not isolated, to the organization's decision to use the fifth overall pick in April on University of Tennessee strong safety Eric Berry.
The rookie collected 126 tackles, four interceptions and nine pass break-ups in 16 starts this season. Analysts have begun to cautiously compare Berry to Pittsburgh Steelers strong safety Troy Polamalu and Ravens free safety Ed Reed.
Reed called himself "a fan of Eric Berry."
"I see growth in him," Reed said Wednesday. "I see he's growing throughout the year. He's making plays, had a very impressive interception he returned a couple weeks ago. I was screaming at the TV for him. I'm definitely rooting for him, too. I talked to him when he was in college before he came out. I've never met him personally, so it'll be interesting to meet him this week, being that it's going to be in the playoffs, in his first playoff game. So it's going to be fun."Kansas City coach Todd Haley credited the organization's front office for doing its homework on Berry.
"I don't think you ever know for sure how a guy is going to respond," Haley said during a conference call with Baltimore media Wednesday. "But again, our scouts did a terrific job of evaluating the player. On a team that is not a very good team, you need to be right on those guys you pick up that high in the draft. Like my father has always told me, you don't want to be picking down there in that top 10 or five especially, very often. You've got to be right, and like I said, our scouts did a terrific job of evaluating all our guys, really, this year. They did a terrific job, and then you've just got to try to be right and figure out who is going to help you the most. But I think we all had high expectations for Eric that he would come in and be able to help us immediately. Now, he's not there yet either, but he's a talented guy that has continued to improve every week. He wants to be a great player. He works hard at his craft and is very coachable and is a great young man that I am excited will be part of the Chiefs, hopefully, for a long time. He's been a big addition, much like the majority of our young group this year."
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