Kansas City, Mo. The biggest question surrounding the Kansas City Chiefs, and one that had the potential to drag on for several more weeks, was answered after the first practice of rookie minicamp.
Offensive tackle Eric Fisher, the first overall pick in the NFL Draft, will slide to the right side of the line, and longtime left tackle Branden Albert — the Chiefs’ franchise player — will report to practice next week and resume his position protecting the blind side.
The Chiefs drafted Fisher with their first-round pick while publicly stating that they were discussing a trade of Albert to the Miami Dolphins, and it was widely assumed that Fisher would be the new left tackle for quarterback Alex Smith this season.
Those trade talks died down, and Albert appears to be back in the fold.
“Branden will play the left side for now and Eric will play the right side,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said Friday, “and I think that gives you two pretty good book-ends right there.”
The Chiefs began a three-day minicamp for their rookies that will last through the weekend, and organized team activities — voluntary workouts for the entire squad — will start next week.
Still, Albert wouldn’t have been required to attend until a mandatory minicamp in June.
Albert has already signed his franchise tender, which guarantees him about $9.3 million this season, but has expressed his displeasure with not having a long-term deal. The two sides talked during the offseason, but it didn’t appear that they were close to an agreement.
Reid said that Albert’s decision to report for the voluntary workouts shouldn’t come as a sign that they’re any closer to a deal, either.
“Right now,” Reid said, “that’s an on-going thing.”
Albert was the Chiefs’ first-round pick in 2008, and has been the starting left tackle ever since then. But he was limited to 13 games and 11 starts last season because of back problems, and even though he’s passed a physical, his long-term physical condition could be a question mark.
That’s one of the reasons the Chiefs used their first-round pick on Fisher.
He’s played the past couple seasons on the left side for Central Michigan, but did play right tackle his sophomore year. He was on the right side during the first day of the Chiefs’ rookie minicamp, too, getting started on his transition back to that side of the line.
“It didn’t really surprise me. I sort of expected it,” Fisher said. “Albert’s a great tackle and somebody I can learn from, so I’m really looking forward to getting through this rookie minicamp and then learning from the veterans.”
Most of the eyes during the Chiefs’ rookie minicamp were focused on the 6-foot-6, 306-pounder wearing No. 72. Kansas City had never before had the first overall pick in the NFL draft, so it’s clear that expectations will be high for the straight-forward, plain-speaking tackle.
Not that Fisher’s worried about those expectations, of course.
“I just try to play football,” he said. “I know how to play football, and I’m going to do what I’ve done the last four years, because that’s what has gotten me here.”
Reid said that a few players turned heads during the first rookie workout, even though players wore shorts and jerseys and the level of activity was limited.
One of them was Fisher.
“He really looked like he felt comfortable there. It was new for him and he stepped right in. He had a heck of a day,” Reid said. “Again, we look forward to getting everybody up here. At the end of OTAs, we’ll have a final minicamp to put the rest of them together.”
Notes: Former Tennessee QB Tyler Bray is getting his chance with the Chiefs after going undrafted. “I knew I was going to have to earn my way, regardless of if I got drafted or not,” he said. “I’m just looking forward to playing and hopefully learning the system.” ... The Chiefs signed OL Eric Kush, one of their two sixth-round picks, and LB Mike Catapano, their seventh-round selection. They also signed 13 undrafted free agents, including Bray.