Despite shuffling, Chiefs offensive line could be settled

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) As another round of musical chairs began with the Kansas City Chiefs offensive line last week, it was hard to fathom just who would be left off the first team when coach Andy Reid finally called for the music to stop.

There was Eric Fisher, the No. 1 overall pick in the draft just two years ago, shuffling over to join the second string for a few reps during an optional offseason workout.

Reid was quick to explain that he merely wanted to get Donald Stephenson a few reps of his own with the first-team offense. Fisher is still his starting left tackle, his job the most secure of the five that will be tasked with carving open holes for Jamaal Charles and keeping quarterback Alex Smith upright next season.

”We’re kind of playing everybody in all different spots,” Reid said. ”We’re going to find the best five guys. That’s what we’re trying to get to. I really don’t care where they play. I just want to find the best five guys and then we line up and we go play.”

Fisher is hardly the only one with some job security.

Left guard Ben Grubbs, a former Pro Bowl selection, is expected to start at left guard after Kansas City sent a fifth-round pick to New Orleans to acquire him. Stephenson is likely to get the nod at right tackle while Jeff Allen is the favorite to land at right guard.

”It’s been a learning process,” Grubbs said. ”Of course it’s different plays, different terminology, but this is what this phase is for. It’s to get the rust off, get acclimated to your teammates and just go out there and see what we all have. It’s been good so far.”

The biggest competition may be at center, where Eric Kush is the heir apparent after backing up the departed Rodney Hudson a year ago. But his only opposition is Mitch Morse, who was drafted just a few weeks ago and is still trying to find his way.

”It’s a competition,” Kush said. ”I’m out here just working with the guys, working as best as I can and playing as well as I can and keep this thing rolling and bringing the energy to practice every day and keeping the guys rolling.”

The offensive line was mostly settled last season. Fisher started every game on the left side, Hudson started every game at center, and sixth-round pick Zack Fulton started all 16 games at right guard as a rookie due to some extenuating circumstances.

The only real movement came when Allen, who started at right tackle, hurt his right elbow in the opener and Ryan Harris wound up starting the other 15 games. And when Mike McGlynn proved to be ineffective at left guard and Jeff Linkenbach stepped in to start three games.

For all the stability, though, the line was largely ineffective. Smith was sacked 45 times, and Charles was beaten up so much that he spent most of last season in the trainer’s room.

”I feel like we’ve got some guys that have been playing for a while,” Charles said, when asked about running back the revamped offensive line. ”I feel comfortable with that line now. Not saying I didn’t last year, but I feel a lot more comfortable than I did last year.”

Despite the musical chairs, it seems like Reid is starting to feel comfortable, too.

”The end result is let’s get reps,” Reid said. ”I don’t really care. Let’s go – let’s just find the best guys and then we go with it.”

Notes: DT Dontari Poe left Tuesday’s optional workout with a back injury. The nature and severity of it were not disclosed. … LB Derrick Johnson did not participate in the workout with inflammation in his knee.