Originally posted on Fox Sports Kansas City  |  Last updated 5/22/12
KANSAS CITY, Mo. They plot. They scheme. Occasionally, they give pointers to the newbies, stay loose, and exchange a chuckle or two. But mostly, they hatch. May is good for hatching. When safeties Kendrick Lewis and Eric Berry are hanging out on the sidelines, the conversation inevitably turns to domination. "That's all we talk about, man," Lewis said Monday, after the Chiefs wrapped up their first morning of full-squad organized team activities (OTAs). "(Berry's) coming back healthy. I'm coming back off of (an) injury. So all we talk about is the things that we talked about when we first got here: Trying to be great, trying to be the best at your positions, trying to help this team become a greater team. (Those) are the type of conversations we have on a daily basis." As a solo act in 2011 Berry was lost during Week 1 due to a torn anterior cruciate ligament, a freak injury that became an epidemic in Kansas City last fall Lewis recorded 60 tackles, broke up 10 passes and picked off three more, including one for a touchdown, despite late-season issues with his ankle, knee, and shoulder. In 2010, Berry was a holy terror, a Tasmanian devil in cleats, an All-Pro as a rookie and one of the most electric young defenders in the AFC. Now imagine them together, roaming the plains, upright and pain-free. And you wonder why fans are excited about the potential of this defense? Why some are already pegging the Chiefs as a potential sleeper, to the NFL in 2012 what the surprising 49ers were in 2011? "From the coaches to the players, they have a certain mentality about themselves they come to work every day prepared to work hard," rookie safety Terrence Parks said of his elders. "And it goes from the coaches to the general manager to the players, everybody." For the first time in months, everybody's in the fold. Well, almost. The first major OTA of the off-season was almost as notable for who wasn't suited up we should probably say "helmeted up," as contact is still non grata as who was. Wideout Dwayne Bowe, who's declined to sign his tender, was the only no-show of significance. But four starters running back Jamaal Charles (knee), tight end Tony Moeaki (knee), Berry (yet another knee) and Lewis (shoulder) were held out. So was rookie safety De'Quan Menzie. In fact, the safety position on Arrowhead Drive is so thin at the moment that the Chiefs ran out Parks, an undrafted rookie, and cornerback Travis Daniels with the first-team defense. "The defensive playbook is complex, man," chuckled Parks, who racked up 47 stops at Florida State in 2011. "Just coming from Florida State, we had a complex playbook, but I mean, this is the NFL, you know? It's different. "When you get an opportunity like that, you have to take advantage of it. It's tough. It's complex. It's a great opportunity." And any chance he got, Parks was over bending the ear of Berry, Lewis, or both. The veterans are hell-bent on showing the free world that they're the best safety combo in the NFL, the crown jewel of the Kansas City defense. Of course, when you're reduced to coaching, some weeks wind up being less about the diamond and more about the rough. "It's real frustrating, because I love the game," offered Lewis, who was dinged up in the season finale against Denver and had shoulder surgery in January. "Just going out there, we've been away from it so long, and you see the guys going out there, going back to work, having fun doing it. You look back, and you're (saying), Man, I wish I could be out there.' But I've got to be patient and do whatever the trainers and coaches say, and get back when I'm ready." Of course, when it comes to what defines "ready," well your guess is as good as Kendrick's. "Whenever the trainers say it's cool for me," he said. "Whenever they release me. I'm just playing it by ear, trying to wait it out. Everything is going smooth, according to plan." And those plans keep getting bigger. Bolder. Lewis and Berry have only made 11 starts together over the past two seasons. The more they talk, the more ground the duo wants to make up. July feels like it's an eternity away. "Oh, it could be a lot better," Lewis said when asked about their rapport. "We know each other. We've played along (side) each other. We've got a great feel for each other. I know what he's thinking. He knows what I'm thinking. It's just that combined effort that we're bringing together as a group; that's going to show this upcoming year." Today, the AFC West. Tomorrow, the world. You can follow Sean Keeler on Twitter @seankeeler or email him at seanmkeeler@gmail.com
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