published Saturday, July 31st, 2010

Berry tweets his deal is done

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. — After being told safety Eric Berry had tweeted that he had come to terms with the Kansas City Chiefs, coach Todd Haley's only comment was that he hoped it was true.

Typically, the Chiefs never announce signings or even confirm that they've come to terms until the player has passed his physical. Berry, the fifth overall pick in the 2010 draft, was not at the team's first practice Friday at their new facility in St. Joseph.

But he said on his Twitter account that he soon would be.

"Bout to head to St. Joe!!! Aka the deals done," he tweeted.

ESPN said the deal was for six years and $60 million, with $34 million guaranteed. That would make him the highest-paid safety in history. Messages to Berry's agent were not immediately returned Friday and the Chiefs refused to comment.

The defensive secondary was one of the weakest areas on one of the weakest defenses in the NFL last year, a big reason the Chiefs finished 4-12 and gave up big plays almost every game.

Asked if he was relieved to know there would be no long holdout by the star safety from Tennessee who's being counted on as an instant starter, Haley shrugged.

"I don't know that's even a fact," he said. "I don't know that anything's official with him. I don't know if anything's done, signed or not signed. As soon as anything's up, somebody will make an announcement."

The Chiefs for years have had a history of first-round draft picks holding out of camp. Berry's reporting on Saturday would mean every rookie and veteran is in camp.

"I'm crossing my fingers that that's the situation," said Haley. "There's so little time as it is. You need to maximize your time and be efficient. Who's here, we'll coach. Who's healthy, we'll coach."

Chiefs general Scott Pioli, signing autographs for fans following Friday afternoon's practice, declined to speak with reporters.

In the meantime, Haley was ecstatic with the first practice and the new facilities, which were built at a cost of almost $14 million on the campus of Missouri Western State University.

For the past 19 years, the Chiefs trained in River Falls, Wis., about a nine-hour drive from KC. But St. Joseph is only about one hour from Arrowhead Stadium.

When a violent thunderstorm blew through the area Friday morning, Haley hustled his team into the new climate-controlled indoor facility.

"I cannot say enough about the setup here," Haley said. "As a coaching staff, we took a little tour last night and we were really fired up. The meeting rooms, the dining, the fields, the stadium. We'll just be able to get a lot done."

No member of the Chiefs family was having a rougher time on the field than first-year offensive coordinator Charlie Weis. The former Notre Dame head coach had a big brace on his left leg and moved around the field on a motorized cart. When he got out of the cart, he walked with difficulty using a cane.

"Charlie had a last-minute something," said Haley. "His knee went out at the 11th hour. As bad a timing as you could have for him. But he toughed it out and found a way to get through and I thought he did a heck of a job."

Haley declined to say how Weis had hurt the knee or how long he would need the cart and the brace.

"I made my comment. He'll get mad at me," Haley said with a grin. "We're not talking about injuries — coaches, players."

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