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Bengals take inspiration in Eric Berry's return from cancer

CINCINNATI -- Wallace Gilberry was in his third season in the league when the Kansas City Chiefs drafted safety Eric Berry fifth overall in 2010.

Before Berry's rookie season even began, Gilberry knew there was something special about the young defensive back.

"From the moment the kid came to Kansas City, he was different," Gilberry said Wednesday. "He's a warrior, man."

Although he has spent the past four seasons playing for the Cincinnati Bengals, Gilberry continues to be amazed -- but not surprised -- by Berry from afar. The Chiefs safety demonstrated his warrior spirit for much of the past 11 months in a fight with Hodgkin's lymphoma. Gilberry knew without a doubt he would see his former teammate in an NFL uniform again.

When the Chiefs visit the Bengals on Sunday, Gilberry will see that in person.

Berry made an emotional return to the Chiefs in late July. He has played in all three of Kansas City's games this season, averaging about 42 snaps. In Monday night's loss to Green Bay, he had a season-high five tackles.

"How much ever [his teammates] respected him before, they respect him even more now," Chiefs coach Andy Reid said on a conference call with Bengals media. "And for him to be able to play, that's quite a story there. We're happy he's alive. That's the most important thing. Anything after that was just icing on the cake."

Said Bengals coach Marvin Lewis: "It looks like he hasn't lost a beat."

Gilberry and Lewis aren't the only Bengals who have been wowed by Berry's return.

"The way he handled it, the way he went through it, the way he attacked it, you just have a ton of respect for a guy," Bengals left tackle Andrew Whitworth said. "It's really cool that he gets to be a great example for people who are in that situation."

Berry won't be the only example of a fighter inside Paul Brown Stadium on Sunday. As Breast Cancer Awareness Month begins, the Bengals will be recognizing breast cancer survivors and people who currently are fighting the disease.

"He's a guy that's a symbol, and there will be a lot of other people there that are a symbol as well," Whitworth said.