Don’t read too much into Chiefs’ OL experiments in May
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Last May 27, it all lined up perfectly, or as perfect as the intent:
LT — Eric Fisher
LG — Jeff Allen
C — Rodney Hudson
RG — Jeff Linkenbach
RT — Donald Stephenson
On Sept. 30, the Kansas City Chiefs’ starting offensive line actually looked like this:
LT — Fisher
LG — Mike McGlynn
C — Hudson
RG — Zach Fulton
RT — Ryan Harris
Things … break.
Things … get weird.
"We’re kind of playing everybody in all different spots, so we don’t even care (right now)," coach Andy Reid said earlier this week.
"Tomorrow will probably be different. We’re going to find the five best guys. That’s what we’re trying to get to. I really don’t care where they play, I just want the five best guys and then we line up and we go play."
It’s May. Jon Baldwin used to own May. Baldwin was Mr. May. Read too closely into May, your eyes start to hurt.
So one week of organized team activities are officially in the books, a week of shorts, shells and experimentation. It’s like a freshman year of college, only in cleats.
May — well, May and early June — are for playing around, trying things out, throwing slop against the wall to see what sticks and what doesn’t. This week alone, we’ve had Fulton, a starting guard as a rookie last year and a good SEC tackle before that, taking snaps at center. We’ve had Paul Fanaika, another veteran NFL guard, at tackle. We’ve had Mitch Morse, who played everywhere, and well, at Mizzou, taking snaps at guard and center.
We’ve had Fisher, the erstwhile "franchise" left tackle, taking snaps with the second team.
Annnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnd … cue the gasps.
"It’s the only way you can get Donald (Stephenson) some reps there," Reid explained when asked about the former No. 1 pick’s practice "demotion." "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."
But read they did. Even though they shouldn’t. The Chiefs let the media watch OTAs and training camp work, with the understanding that we won’t divulge key strategic secrets or weaknesses or anything else the staff would rather keep under wraps. Also, that everything in front of us, lineups included, is very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very much in pencil.
May is a rehearsal without the costumes. In May, the director and cast are walking around with scripts still in hand, changing lines as they go. May is for blocking, in both the stage and football sense of the term.
Things … happen. Last August, they happened here. Stephenson got slapped with a suspension and stuck in the doghouse. Allen got hurt. The Andy Gang was forced to retool and improvise on the fly, and it took several weeks for things to finally gel. The preseason was a disaster in the trenches; Week 1 at home to Tennessee was only slightly better.
May is about working on hypotheticals, even the crappy ones. Is there life on the blind side without Fisher? Could Fulton make all the calls if forced to play center in a pinch? May is when you tinker to try and find out.
Things … change. This week, they changed in Denver. Broncos left tackle Ryan Clady, a four-time Pro Bowler, tore his left anterior cruciate ligament during practice Wednesday, likely sidelining the big lug for the entire season.
As cover, Team Elway inked Harris off the street to play tackle. Harris, as you may recall, did a fair job with the Chiefs last fall after being thrown into the fire, especially when compared with fellow import Mike "Swinging Gate" McGlynn.
But Clady, he ain’t.
Funny how things … come around.
"I don’t really care," Reid continued. "Let’s go, let’s just find the best guys and then we go with it."
May is when you remember old mistakes, history’s wounds. May is when you make it a point to do everything in your power to make sure they don’t happen again.