ST. JOSEPH, Mo. -- It was a less-than-glamorous way for the Kansas City Chiefs to break in their new hope at a most important position. Surrounded by a skeleton crew in a minicamp designed mostly for rookies and fringe players, Eric Fisher assumed his new post at left tackle for the first time in a team setting on Tuesday at Missouri Western State University.
The environment didn’t bother Fisher one bit.
“I had the surgeries, so I needed to get out here, get situated before the vets get here,’’ Fisher said. “I’m glad to be here early so I can get a jump on things.”
The Chiefs share the sentiment. This was the plan all along for Fisher starting from the moment they drafted him with the No. 1 overall pick last year. He would play as a rookie at right tackle then shift to protect quarterback Alex Smith's blind side in 2014, after the Chiefs lost left tackle Branden Albert to the Miami Dolphins in free agency.
The plan was delayed for a few months after Fisher had two offseason surgeries, one to repair a balky shoulder and the other for a sports hernia. The surgeries limited Fisher to individual drills during offseason practice.
Despite the setbacks, getting Fisher to this point was the easy part for the Chiefs. Getting him to be the solid left tackle that Albert was last season could prove more difficult. Fisher had a rocky rookie season in large part because he wasn’t strong enough to handle the bigger, more physical defenders he faced.
Because of the shoulder surgery, Fisher’s ability to get into the weight room to remedy the problem was delayed. He insisted on Tuesday he was able to get in the necessary work anyway.
“I never really lost strength,’’ Fisher said. “I’ve been in there working. When you can’t bench, there’s other things you can do. That’s what I was doing.”
Fisher may be right. But it will be an issue for the Chiefs to monitor carefully when full-squad training camp begins on Thursday.