“It’s the only way you can get Donald (Stephenson) some reps there, so we want to make sure that we’ve got everybody covered. Actually Fish has done a really nice job, so I wouldn’t read anything into that. We’re staying consistent and moving people around,” Reid explained to reporters on Thursday.
Now OTA sessions are meant to tinker with lineups and personnel. So let’s be realistic, Fishers demotion doesn’t really mean much in May. However, I could argue (and I will), two years ago Stephenson was the Chiefs best offensive lineman.
Last season he was dug firmly into Reid’s doghouse and never escaped its clutches. Stephenson has enormous potential but he appears to be a player that can’t get out of his own way. From his suspension a year ago, that caught the Chiefs off guard, it would appear by his absence on game days a season ago, Stephenson didn’t do the right things to get back into the good graces of his head coach.
However, Reid gave Stephenson a clean slate a few months ago, and the young man appears to be taking that chance with a vigor, that still makes him one of the team best five offensive lineman currently on the roster.
To clarify in no particular order, those five are Stephenson, Ben Grubbs, Jeff Allen, Paul Fanaika and Fisher. Yes I know I didn’t post a center on that list because neither Eric Kush nor Mitch Morse rate in my book until I see them in pads.
Again Reid made it clear that Fisher has done nothing to earn a second team demotion at this point. In the event Fisher, should he open the season at left tackle, sustains an injury this season, Stephenson is the logical choice to replace him on the field.
As for Fisher, well this is his judge and jury season in Kansas City. In two seasons, between injuries and his inability to play the NFL game like he did in College, has been the primary reason nobody knows what kind of player he can become for the Chiefs.
To be fair, he’s dealt with numerous injuries since he was drafted. However, he came to the OTA sessions this year in the best shape of his so-so NFL career. Fisher has all the tools to be a dominant Tackle at the NFL level. For me, it’s always been about his desire.
When the Chiefs traded for Ben Grubbs in March, I was convinced they did so for the sake of saving Fisher’s career. Granted Grubbs is an upgrade, and a veteran presence, who understand the battle within the trenches, so placing him next to Fisher can only equate to a brilliant move by the organization.
Reid and General Manager, John Dorsey, have a lot riding on Fisher. They need him, not Stephenson, to emerge as the teams starting left tackle in 2015. However, if Fisher isn’t one of the Chiefs best five offensive linemen, he will indeed be a second team player this year.
If the season started today, the starters on the offensive line would be from left to right, Fisher, Grubbs, Morse, Fanaika and Stephenson. Yet I could see Stephenson at left tackle and Allen at right tackle.
I don’t think Reid would dare move Fisher back to right tackle as he did in his rookie season. In the view of the organization, it’s either left tackle or bust for Mr. Fisher.
I’m not about to predict how this shakes out because Reid has always been one to proclaim and act, the five best men to protect his quarterback will start. The fact that a number of the players mentioned have position versatility, tells me Reid has greater expectations for this offensive line than at any point of his tenure in Kansas City. He also has options.
If Fisher struggles, he’ll ride the bench. If he shines, then Reid will be given high marks for turning around his career and be given proper credit for making Fisher the first overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft.