Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid told reporters at the NFL league meeting that he expects last year’s #1 overall pick, Eric Fisher, to take over for the departed Branden Albert at left tackle in 2014 while Donald Stephenson – who started for the injured Albert at left last year – would switch over to the right side. But Reid left himself an opening to change his mind … just in case.
Speaking at the AFC Coaches Breakfast during the meetings in Orlando, Florida, Reid was peppered with questions about many of his visible past players like Albert, linebacker Akeem Jordan, Michael Vick, DeSean Jackson, and Jason Avant as well as his current players Alex Smith, Jamaal Charles and Knile Davis. Most of Reid’s answers, though obviously heartfelt, were positive and full of coach-speak.
For instance, Vick and Jackson are good. Albert is good. He likes Akeem Jordan. He would love to have Avant on the Chiefs but you never know how free agency will work out. He is wowed by Smith’s dedication to being a better player. Charles is a really good running back and Davis needs to take that next step in 2014 – even though he is a good player! Nice things to say, but nothing earth-shattering there.
But for Chiefs fans, the important tidbit of information came towards the end of Reid’s Q&A when asked about Fisher, last year’s #1 pick.
“Right now I think I’m going to move him to the left side. That’s where he played in college, although Stephenson played there for me and I know he can do that too. But I think I’m going to start off with Eric at left and keep Donald at right and then we roll.”
But then, Mike Florio of NBC’s Pro Football Talk asked if Fisher and Stephenson could switch back, Reid said, “Well obviously we don’t anticipate that, but both have played both sides so we’re good either way.”
Considering Fisher was the overall #1pick in the draft, he had a disappointing year under any set of criteria, battling injuries almost from the start of training camp, including shoulder, groin and knee injuries as well as a concussion later in the season. During it all, he struggled with switching from the left side that he played in college to the right and had particular problems with bigger pass rushers who could bull him over with strength.
Optimistic Chiefs fans (like your Chiefs Examiner) want to believe that after a year of learning how to play in the big bad NFL after spending his career at a small college, devoting himself to a high-quality nutrition and exercise program, and moving back to the position that made him worthy of the #1 pick, Fisher will improve by leaps and bounds next year at left. Stephenson may not be a Pro Bowl caliber tackle on either side, but he has proven that he has the skills to play in the NFL and can continue to improve.
After the Chiefs lost 2013 offensive starters Albert to the Dolphins, guard Geoff Schwartz to the Giants, and Jon Asamoah to the Falcons, the success of 2014 weighs heavily on Fisher and Stephenson to prove their doubters wrong and become forces at their respective positions.
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