Here are five thoughts about the Kansas City Chiefs and their offensive line:
If left tackle Eric Fisher is ever going to become the player the Chiefs envision, this would most likely be the season it happens. Fisher recently said he’s been able to get much stronger and mold his body the way he wanted during his first full injury- and rehab-free offseason with the Chiefs. He had surgery to repair a balky shoulder last offseason and wasn’t able to lift weights as he needed to. “I’ve been working since mid-January and just compared to where I was last year at this time, it’s a complete 180, and it just feels great to be healthy, strong and have the experience under my belt,’’ Fisher said. “I am stoked for this year. I cannot wait for that season to roll around.” It’s been a tedious wait for Fisher, the first overall pick in the 2013 draft. But if he turns the corner this year, he would have been worth it.
The competition for starting positions at training camp will be interesting. Fisher and left guard Ben Grubbs look to be the only players secure with a starting spot. The other three jobs are up for the taking between Eric Kush and rookie Mitch Morse at center, Paul Fanaika, Zach Fulton and perhaps others at right guard and Donald Stephenson and Jeff Allen at right tackle.
If the Chiefs can avoid injuries, their depth will better than it was last year. Two of the regular starters from last year, left guard Mike McGlynn and right tackle Ryan Harris, joined the Chiefs as so-called street free agents late in the process, Harris on the eve of the start of training camp and McGlynn late in the preseason. The Chiefs shouldn’t have to go that route for starters this year, though it wouldn’t be a surprise if the Chiefs added a veteran tackle at some point. They’re thin behind Fisher, Stephenson and Allen.
It may not work out this way, but the Chiefs would like to see Morse, their second-round draft pick, win the starting center’s job. Though some talent evaluators thought Morse was drafted too early, the Chiefs don’t think so. They believe they got a steal.
As things stand, the Chiefs will have to be looking for linemen again next year. Stephenson and Allen are headed into the final seasons of their respective contracts, and general manager John Dorsey (since joining the Chiefs) hasn’t re-signed any veteran linemen headed for free agency with the exception of Branden Albert, who stayed a final season as the franchise player before bolting for the Miami Dolphins in free agency. The Chiefs acquired at least two offensive linemen who wound up starting that season in the previous two years. The total will be three this year if Grubbs, Fanaika and Morse wind up as starters.