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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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