Training camp begins Friday for the Kansas City Chiefs, and it will start without co-MVP Eric Berry, one headliner in a host of ominous news for the team.
Barring an unexpected change of heart from the 27-year-old safety, Berry won't report with his teammates in St. Joseph, Missouri. The two sides failed to reach a long-term contract agreement before the July 15 deadline for teams to sign players given the franchise designation and were "miles apart" in the negotiations, according to Berry's camp.
"He's the heart and soul of the team," said quarterback Alex Smith, the co-MVP of the team in 2015.
Running back Jamaal Charles will open camp on the physically unable to perform list. Charles tore a knee ligament in October and finished last season on injured reserve while Charcandrick West and Spencer Ware managed to carry the load in the backfield.
Charles, who turns 30 in December, might miss the start of the regular season.
The hope is Berry will not.
Head coach Andy Reid said he hopes to see Berry soon.
"First of all, we love Eric Berry," Reid said as the team set up camp Tuesday. "He's a huge part of this football team. Whether he's here or not, I can't answer that. I know there's a report out there that he's not going to be here. I've always said, 'We'll coach the guys who are here.'
"My standpoint and the organization's standpoint is that he's a huge part of this. I'm hoping that he's here, and if he's not, I understand that too. I've been doing this for a few years. I know how things go and it'll all work out one way or another."
The four-time Pro Bowl safety was Comeback Player of the Year in 2015, returning from months of cancer treatment and earning another trip to Hawaii.
As quarterbacks and rookies started workouts Wednesday, Reid was also worried about the absence of another defensive stalwart, outside linebacker Justin Houston. He will not participate in training camp.
Houston is not recovered from a knee injury that limited him the second half of last season. A four-time Pro Bowl selection signed to a $102 million deal in July 2015, Houston underwent surgery in February to repair his left anterior cruciate ligament.
Reid confirmed Houston is likely to be sidelined into September and possibly beyond.