Apr 26, 2013; Kansas City , MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs first round draft pick offensive tackle Eric Fisher speaks to the media during a press conference at the Kansas City Chiefs Training Complex. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

Eric Fisher's Injury Highlights Need For More Offensive Line Depth

As was already reported here at Arrowhead Addict, the number one overall draft pick, Eric Fisher, came away from the first preseason game with a left thumb injury. It isn’t believed to be too serious. However, Fisher did not practice on Sunday when the rest of the Chiefs returned to training camp action in St. Joseph. After practice, Andy Reid addressed the issue and told reporters that Fisher was also dealing with a sore right shoulder.

Randy Covitz of the Kansas City Star has the story:

“It’s a bruise in there,” Chiefs head coach Andy Reid said. “He didn’t complain about it during the game, he didn’t complain about it after the game. It showed up (Saturday). He can’t quite get the motion that he needs.

“It’s not structural, it’s a muscle bruise. We’ll get it settled down. It’s day by day. I think he’ll be all right.”

Before I address the injuries themselves I do think it’s worth noting how Andy Reid is handling the situation. First off, despite running what is by all accounts a very tough and physical camp, Reid seems more than comfortable with allowing players to take a day off to heal up if they are hurting. He’s also not afraid to tell the media what is going on. For the last several years we would have just heard “He’s a little dinged up, but I’m only going to talk about the players that were out on the field.” The open attitude towards the fans is a refreshing change from the previous regime.

As far as the injuries go, it doesn’t sound like either the thumb or the shoulder issues are too serious. At this point I don’t think anyone needs to be pacing the floor in fear of the first overall pick missing regular season games. If Reid is in fact telling us the truth, Fisher just has a hurt thumb and a sore shoulder. Welcome to the NFL kid, right? A day or two of rest and I’m guessing Fisher will be back out there. He seems like a tough guy and not the kind to milk an injury to get a few days out of practice. Reid’s comments above even hint at the fact that Fisher isn’t one to complain.

However, if Fisher isn’t able to go when the Chiefs take the field for their preseason game against San Francisco that will mean that Donald Stephenson (who just returned from missing time for a finger surgery) will likely be starting in his place. The problem with that is that there are very few dependable options in the 2nd and 3rd offensive line units. If there was one thing that concerned me most after the first preseason game, it was the lack of depth on the offensive line (that, and Vince Agnew’s coverage ability). I literally had a hard time evaluating the play of any of the skill position guys after the starters left because the offensive line play was so poor.

I get it, you aren’t going to have 10 starting caliber offensive linemen on your roster. There aren’t enough to go around. However, the drop off in talent after KC’s first seven linemen is MASSIVE. I already wrote about this need a few weeks ago. You can go back and read it if you’d like, but here’s the 5 second recap. After the Chiefs top 7 offensive linemen, the rest of the players in camp have NO regular season game experience. These are all undrafted, practice squad type project guys.

I’m all for trying to find a diamond in the rough. It makes for a great story and bragging rights for the scouting department and GM. However, at some point you have to stop trying to hit home runs and settle for nice safe base hit to advance the runners (sorry for the baseball metaphor, I’m not used to the Royals still being in the race at this point). My point is, there are lots of free agents sitting at home on their couch right now that want to be on a roster that have NFL game experience. They aren’t great. They aren’t Pro Bowl caliber guys. Most of them aren’t even guys that you’d want as your regular starter.

You know what they are?

They’re a lot better than Matt Reynolds.

They’re a lot better than Tommie Draheim.

What if this was the regular season? Eric Fisher is banged up and questionable. Donald Stephenson is coming off surgery. You’re one more offensive line injury away from Alex Smith running for his life every pass play. Don’t believe me? Go pour some truth syrup down Chase Daniel’s throat and ask him about his protection on Friday night. Ask him if any of those guys not named Geoff Schwartz that were blocking for him have any business in a regular season NFL game.

I understand that the Chiefs are up against the cap. I don’t care. Cut somebody. Worst case (or actually best case) the offensive line stays completely healthy and the veteran that they sign never sees the field. It’s still not a waste of money. You know why? Because the Chiefs would be better able to evaluate the guys fighting for the reserve spots because the second and third string had better blocking in front of them.

If you are still sitting there thinking that having two capable back up offensive linemen is enough going into a season go ask a Chargers, Steelers, or Packers fan what they think about that plan. Every season there are a handful of teams that get hit with an injury bug on their offensive line. The results can be disastrous. I believe in Alex Smith, but he’s not the kind of guy that could overcome a horrible line in front of him. If the Chiefs (knocks on wood) are one of the unfortunate teams to battle injuries up front this season they are woefully unprepared.

Eric Fisher’s injuries, even if not that serious, just brings that point to light all the more.

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  • Andrew Kulha

    Phenomenal take here.. Who are some options that you would suggest?

    • Lyle Graversen

      Since there two decent guys off the bench (Stephenson and Schwartz) both can play tackle, I’d go with someone with G/C experience. Eugene Amano and Rex Hadnot have could both play G/C and have a combined 164 NFL starts between them.

      • Lyle Graversen

        That was really poorly worded, but I think the point came across.

        • Calchiefsfan

          Yup, got the point and like the choices, I think I can see where we need to go in next years draft in the 3rd and 4th rounds.

  • Montez K.

    A little worried what with the OL depth issue we are having…This doesn’t bode well..I know he needs all the preseason experience he can get but I say they let him rest and heal and then throw him back in the mix…he won’t do us any good if he breaks all of his fingers before the regular season begins!

  • Jim Harper

    Your point is well taken. I think Dorsey has been trying to address it. There have been several OL guys come and go, so I think he is definitely trying. The purpose of the preseason is to get a look at players who might fit your needs. I suspect the final 53 is going to look much different than it does now.

  • berttheclock

    The last time the NY Giants won the Super Bowl, there were two offensive linemen on their roster who took turns bouncing from the practice squad to the main roster due to the several injuries suffered by other Giants’ linemen.

    • paul pace

      Well stated!

  • ladner morse

    I think the best point Lyle makes here is… “However, at some point you have to stop trying to hit home runs and settle for nice safe base hit to advance the runners”… and Dorsey needs to re-evaluate who on the roster can be cut from another position to save to money needed to sign an experienced vet.

    I’m all for bringing Brain Waters back for a glory days tour of duty and even though I think he’ll want to start I have no problems with that since he still has the Pro Bowl genes flowing through his veins.

    Albert-Waters-Hudson-Asamoah-Fisher as starters with
    Stephenson-Allen-Schwartz-Kush as back-ups plus a couple development guys is so much better than being two OL injuries away from Alex Smith doom.

    I do believe Dorsey is playing with fire here and what I mean by that is… I think he’s waiting until a few of weeks down the line when teams make the cut down to the final 53. There certainly will be experienced OL cut because there was a large influx of OL coming into the league through the draft. 25 Guards or Tackles or Center were drafted in the first 5 rounds f the 2013 draft. No not all of those players will make it but there will be enough that are going to displace veterans purely from a teams budget conscious standpoint.

    I really don’t believe the Chiefs will be inquiring about Waters so I am hoping they come up with at least one solid vet from the cut down pool.

    Great piece Lyle.

    • Danny W

      LIke the Brian Waters idea. Would love to see him retire as a Chief.

  • Danny W

    Like what Ladner said I think we’ll pick some up after week three or four of preseason. We should have kept David Mimms.

  • CashGameND

    i think you couldnt over react any more then what you have here. we have good depth for this team. those players your talking about are going to be cut, just like every other team in the nfl, they are only going to have about 3 players as o-line depth. although it would be nice to have better players for our 2s & 3s its just not realistic, any o-lineman who has a shot in hell at making a roster isn’t going to sign a contract to come to the chiefs knowing he has no shot at making the final 55.

    • paul pace

      Here, here! Everyone is getting bent out of shape and paranoid regarding our backups. I think the Chiefs are going to be O.K.! You can only have so many quality o-linemen so everyone has to just chill out a little! Dorsey will continue to improve our depth.

  • jimfromkcj

    I think what has transpired with the Chiefs validates what I have been saying for a long time. First, I have thought that in order for the Chiefs to compete, they had to get bigger on both off and def lines. Second, they have to get their salaries straightend out. They are in the words of car dealers upside down with their salaries. Third, they need to get taller with their receivers and corner backs. And they need to be a whole lot better in scouting players in the draft and quit trying to find the diamond in the rough that will make them look like they know what they are doing. I have been saying for a long time that the Chiefs are not nearly as good as the fans like to think they are. The new regime coming in and doing a big housecleaning proves that. I also think Pioli has set the Chiefs back at least 3 years and possibly more in getting to a Super bowl appearance.

  • Vchiefsfan

    I’m not going to worry about how the backups played in thier first pre-season game and think the sky is falling. The fact that they have no NFL experience (very little) actually makes me even feel better about how they played. In fact, I’d be alot more worried with someone with 5 years of experience that someone else cut who’s ceiling just isn’t there now (or never was). Give these guys some time, and they’ll be fine, or they’ll be looking for a job elsewhere.

  • ArrowFan

    So how many “good” O lineman should an NFL roster have? To 7 maybe 8 would be it. Now I do agree it is bothersome but it was the first game lest see what we get in game 2. On another note it sure is nice to have BA on this team right now isn’t it.