KANSAS CITY, Mo. – In their first three practices last spring, the Kansas City Chiefs used three combinations for their starting offensive line and looked at several others before finishing with their offseason work.
The Chiefs finished their first practice week on Thursday and conducted all three sessions with the same starting offensive line: Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz at tackle, Zach Fulton and Laurent Duvernay-Tardif at guard and Mitch Morse at center.
Changes are coming to the offensive line next week, however, when the Chiefs get back to practice.
“We’ll start doing that," coach Andy Reid said. “For these three days, we felt pretty good about what we had right there and we wanted to get it kind of settled. Guys will move around next week.
“I don’t think it’s going to be as much as what you’ve seen in the past. We feel pretty good with that group. But it’s important that we still get guys in there so that if something were to happen... "
That’s the biggest difference in the Chiefs’ offensive line from last year to this year. In 2015, the Chiefs went through the offseason, including training camp and the preseason, looking for the proper starting combination. They never did settle on a regular starting line throughout the season.
This year, the Chiefs aren’t necessarily looking for starters, but want to prepare some backups in case of injuries to the players ahead of them on the depth chart. Four of this week’s five regulars started at least a few games for the Chiefs last year and the fifth, Schwartz, started all 16 games for the Cleveland Browns.
At least three of the starting positions look set. It would take a massive upset or an injury to move Fisher, Schwartz or Morse from the starting lineup. Fulton and Duvernay-Tardif could be more vulnerable to losing their positions, but both are young players who should continue to improve.
Schwartz was the Chiefs’ major free-agent acquisition this year. He was signed to play right tackle, where he will be asked to block some of the AFC West’s best pass-rushers, including Oakland’s Khalil Mack, Denver’s Von Miller and San Diego’s Melvin Ingram.
But the Chiefs have no obvious candidate to become Fisher’s backup at left tackle. Reid said the Chiefs might eventually give Schwartz some work there, though that experiment would wait.
“Right now he’s just keeping his head above water [trying to learn] the plays," Reid said. “We’ll just let him settle in where he’s at and kind of keep him there for now."