Secondly, there is the player’s fit in the line overall. Dorsey has made multiple acquisitions for the guard position and has two young lineman that are developing there as well. The core linemen have worked through the OTA’s together. Adding a new starter would disrupt the cohesion they’ve built to this point. There is also the question of side. Both Grubbs and Mathis have played at the left guard the bulk of their careers. Asking a Pro-Bowl player to change positions doesn’t make sense , although both Mathis and Grubbs could be solid on the right side.
That brings Reid and his staff back to their philosophy that the best five linemen will make up the starting unit. Here, he feels the group can be greater than the sum of its parts. Reid is comfortable with the line growing as a unit and sees competition as a sign of progression. “I think they competed like crazy. They’ll continue to do that through training camp and then we’ll see,” Reid answered when asked about the offensive line. “I’ve said it before—we’ll play the five best and we’ll see how it works out through camp.”
That scenario can shake out several ways. The only seemingly known quantity is Ben Grubbs, who will start at left guard. After Grubbs, there are questions. Kush or Morse? Returning starter Fulton or Fanaika? Then there is Jeff Allen, who could be the best player at both right guard and right tackle. He could fill either role as slid starter. We’ll have to watch until training camp solidifies a lineup.
The Bottom line
Dorsey and the team are sticking to the plan and showing some faith in the players they have placed on the line. But, Reid’s comments give me pause. “We’ll see how it works out through camp,” makes we wonder. The best five will play. If the team sees any significant injuries on the offensive line or the unit doesn’t come together, there may still be room for a player like Mathis.
Could Mathis’s contract demands leave him unsigned after the start of training camp? It seems unlikely, but it is a possibility. The fact he hasn’t been signed in an effort to get him in for a team’s mini-camp signals to me that there is some hesitation to sign a player of that age for that money. He could have to relax his demands in order to get signed. If Mathis was to sit unsigned into the 2nd week of training camp, he would likely not suffer for the lack of reps, especially in Kansas City. Mathis knows Reid’s system inside-out and any extra rest for a 34-year-old lineman is a benefit.