KANSAS CITY, Mo. —After making the Pro Bowl and helping the Chiefs to a division title as a rookie, Eric Berry is a logical candidate to become the NFL's next great safety.
But for Berry to get there, the Chiefs may need to play him fewer snaps. Berry was the lone Chiefs player to participate in all of their defensive plays last season.
Berry also was in for almost half the Chiefs' special teams plays.
The number of plays in which each Chiefs player participated — or, in some cases, did not participate — casts a revealing light on a few other key issues as the league and its locked-out players await word from the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals on when they can resume offseason activities in anticipation of the 2011 season.
Another defensive player, lineman Glenn Dorsey, had an abnormally high play count for his position. Dorsey was in for 86 percent of Kansas City's 1,065 defensive plays.
Coach Todd Haley said during the season that he planned to monitor playing time for all the Chiefs and didn't want to overuse any of them.
"I'm just trying to keep my eyes wide open and really make it something I'm focused on a lot of the time, and then make the (assistant) coaches aware of it at all times also, so that we're not being short-sighted for the future or now," Haley said.
Haley didn't overlook Berry or Dorsey. But their play counts are a sign of how valuable the Chiefs consider them to be.
Berry helped the Chiefs make huge gains defensively, particularly against the run. His pass coverage still needs work, as Baltimore tight end Todd Heap showed with a big game at Arrowhead Stadium in the playoffs.
Berry was also one of Kansas City's top special teams participants. He was a regular on the Chiefs' kickoff-coverage and kickoff-return teams.
Dorsey is the Chiefs' most versatile defensive lineman. They rotated their other linemen liberally. No other Chiefs lineman played more than 50 percent of the team's defensive snaps.
But Haley and Co. obviously believed they couldn't survive without Dorsey in the lineup most of the time. He was also in for about 9 percent of the Chiefs' special teams plays.
It's not uncommon for a defensive back like Berry to play a high percentage of his team's defensive snaps. Cornerback Brandon Carr, for instance, took part in 99 percent, or all but 10, of the Chiefs' plays on defense in 2010.
The Chiefs could lighten Berry's load by removing him from special teams duty, where he played in 195 of their 468 plays. Only eight Chiefs were in for more special teams plays. The Chiefs drafted cornerback Jalil Brown in the fourth round this year and may give him some or all of Berry's special teams work in 2011.
But it could prove difficult for the Chiefs to provide more rest for Dorsey. They drafted Allen Bailey in the third round, but it's unlikely Bailey can be the versatile threat that Dorsey is, particularly early in his career.
On offense, center Casey Wiegmann played in every one of the Chiefs' 1,103 offensive plays. Wiegmann hasn't missed a snap since 2001, a streak the Chiefs said stands at 10,441.
Florida State's Rodney Hudson, drafted in the second round to replace Wiegmann, will be busy next season if he wins the starting spot. It's not uncommon for a healthy offensive lineman to play most or all of his team's snaps, and all five of the Chiefs' starting offensive linemen played at least 90 percent of the snaps last year.
Running back Jamaal Charles participated in just 53 percent of the Chiefs' offensive plays in 2010 and still finished second in the NFL with 1,467 rushing yards,
Charles was either handed (230 times) or thrown the ball (45 times) on 47 percent of the 587 plays in which he participated.
Fellow running back Thomas Jones, who had 15 more carries than Charles last season, played just 41 percent of the Chiefs' snaps.