The Kansas City Chiefs have a few young players they need to see dramatic improvement from, and Eric Fisher would be at the top of that list. Fisher had a disappointing rookie season, certainly not what reasonably could be expected from the first pick in the draft, and he recently was installed as the new left tackle, replacing departed Pro Bowler Branden Albert.
So Fisher’s year started off with two surgeries, one to fix a balky left shoulder and the other to repair a sports hernia. Were these temporary setbacks or signs of more disappointment to come?
They don’t have to be devastating. Fisher is back and working in the weight room, though not at full capacity with his upper body because of the shoulder surgery. He shouldn’t miss much if any practice time, and either way Fisher will get enough of that where he should be adequately prepared when the regular season begins.
But this still isn’t what the Chiefs or Fisher needed. He played between 295 and 300 pounds last season, which was too light to give him the anchor he needed against bigger, strong opponents. He also needed to get stronger in his upper body, and he’s missing an opportunity to do make that happen.
Fisher still plans to play somewhere between 310 and 315 pounds in the fall.
"Every pound is going to help," he said.
The plan for extra weight is endorsed by coach Andy Reid.
"You want to make sure he maintains his weight, and we thought at the end of the season, he could afford to add a few pounds," Reid said. "He’s done that and he’s put on another five, which is good weight. I think when he gets full capacity with his upper body, he’ll put on another five or so, and that’s about an average for a lineman. You look at linemen that come in their rookie year onto their second year, they normally add about 10 pounds, on average."
Fisher was injured all season. The shoulder problems began in the preseason. He had trouble at other times with hand and groin problems, and he missed a game because of a concussion.
"I’m really excited to have a complete body this season," Fisher said.
Moving to the left side after a season at right tackle fulfills the vision the Chiefs had for Fisher when they drafted him. It was delayed for a year because the Chiefs had the veteran Albert set on the left side.
"Yeah, I’m really excited," Fisher said. "Down in my heart, I think I’m a left tackle. Playing right tackle last year I think was a great learning opportunity for me. I learned a lot from Branden Albert. What a great guy to learn from.
"I’m ready to take over now. I’m ready to run that left side with (guard) Jeff Allen, and I think we’re going to have a great crew up front."
That won’t occur unless Fisher makes a big leap in the quality of his play. It could happen. Despite his struggles last season, he showed athletic ability uncommon for a man of his size.
But his year isn’t off to a great start in that regard.