Though the former first overall pick earned just his first Pro Bowl selection last season, offensive tackle Eric Fisher has quietly become one of the team’s most enduring figures. He has started 90 of 96 possible games in his six-year career, and aside from a 15-year veteran in punter Dustin Colquitt, he and tight end Travis Kelce are the longest tenured Chiefs on the roster.
As the team prepares for their opening preseason game on Saturday, Fisher reflected on his first glimpse of NFL preseason action.
“Obviously back then, it was a bit of pressure on me. Being the first overall pick out of Central Michigan, it’s nice to think back to those days and see where I’m at now,” Fisher said. “My overall goal is to improve every year, and as long as I do that I think I’ll be satisfied with it.”
Offensive lines, by virtue of being a large five-man unit, are ever-changing. Injuries and contract conflict are unavoidable, so it’s rare to be able to maintain much of a nucleus over several seasons.
But the Chiefs line hasn’t experienced much turnover, maintaining three starters from 2018 and allowing depth players like Andrew Wylie and Austin Reiter to earn the starting spots they filled last season.
“It’s nice when you have a line that’s been together a while, the communication actually lessens because we’re all on the same page. We see everything as a unit and know what’s going on,” Fisher said. “Obviously, there needs to be a lot of communication still, but we’re all on the same page and can go out there and do our thing.”
On the opposite end of the spectrum from Fisher, potential starter Austin Reiter had largely been a journeyman until he came to Kansas City a week before the season started in 2018. After filling in admirably for injured center Mitch Morse, Reiter has earned the opportunity to take hold of a starting spot for the first time in his career.
“I’ve always gone into it thinking, ‘You’ve gotta practice to be the one.” I was told that by a vet when I was a rookie,” Reiter said. “You’ve gotta go out there, whether you’re going the threes or the twos, you’ve gotta prepare and practice like you’re a one. That’s kinda been my mindset the last five years.”
Even as one of the unit’s newer faces, Reiter emphasized their collective chemistry.
“The offensive line is probably the most cohesive group. We do everything together. We have the most people on the field working together at one time. We’re always trying to work, trying to talk out there, be on the same page.”
But even as the line comes together, it wouldn’t be a nice season for Fisher without a new guard playing next to him. Wylie is now primed to be the 11th distinct player to start a game lined up inside of Fisher in his career, something he seems acutely aware of.
“I’d say I’m used to it. I don’t think you can count on two hands the how many guys I’ve played next to now,” Fisher said. “I think it’s cool, just to see the evolution of the Chiefs, where we were in 2013 and where we are now. It’s been pretty cool to be a part of that and there’s only a small group of people who have been able to experience that.”