KANSAS CITY, Mo. – It’s been portrayed as a demotion, Eric Fisher’s move from left to right tackle in the Chiefs offensive line.
When a team uses the first selection in the NFL Draft on a tackle, it’s not because they think he’ll be a great right tackle. They are spending football capital on a left tackle, the man protecting the blind side of the quarterback.
Not surprisingly, Fisher does not see his move to accommodate Donald Stephenson at left tackle as a step backwards.
“Wherever they need me,” Fisher said. “When I was being drafted that was one of my big things; I basically played every (offensive line) position in college. I was put on the right side my rookie year and moved left last year. Now, they moved me to right.
“That’s what Coach (Andy) Reid thinks is best for all five upfront, he’s got the best five in the best positions, so be it … whatever I’ve got to do to help this team win.”
The move would not draw any extra scrutiny if Fisher was the second pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, or the fifth choice, or selection No. 20.
But there is extra attention and pressure for a player that sees his name called first in the annual selection meeting.
Fisher admitted the weight of expectations was tough for him to deal with as a rookie.
“I definitely went through my growing pains, digging myself a hole, putting myself in unnecessary situations by putting pressure on myself,” he said. “I’m over that. I’m confident in what I’m doing now. Need me on the right? I’ll go to the right. Need me on the left? I’ll go to the left.”
It was during the most recent offseason that Fisher took stock of himself and his career, and in the process said he left the pressure behind.
“I took some time to do some self-reflection and find out where I needed to grow mentally and physically to be a better player overall,” Fisher said. “I thought I took advantage of that and thought I had a pretty decent camp until I got rolled up.”
During practice in St. Joseph on August 17, Fisher’s left ankle got caught under the body of defensive end Allen Bailey in a pass-protection drill. He was left with a high-ankle sprain, an injury that generally takes longer to heal that a low-ankle sprain.
Fisher did not return to the field for practice until the past week, and that’s when he found out about the move to the right side.
One reason Reid made the decision was Fisher’s ability to adapt because of his experience in the coach’s scheme.
“The first couple of years it would have been a pretty big task to ask of myself,” Fisher said of the position switch. “Now, (I) know the offensive inside and out; I played there before. It’s just second nature; kind of like riding a bike.”
Quarterback Alex Smith understood exactly what Fisher felt the last two years – he was the first choice of the 2005 NFL Draft.
It took Smith a long time to deal with the pressure of being No. 1.
“Shoot, it was probably four or five years before you totally drop that,” Smith said of the first pick status. “It’s a lot of anxiety, self-doubts can get you and stuff like that. You carry a lot of weight around. It was hard for me early on.
“You just keep going and try to play through it.”