Kansas City Chiefs left tackle Eric Fisher underwent surgery to repair a torn Achilles tendon on Jan. 29, yet general manager Brett Veach is hopeful the Pro Bowler could again be manning his post protecting the blindside of Patrick Mahomes by Week 1 of the 2021 season.
That’s based on the preliminary forecast from Rick Burkholder, the team’s vice president of sports medicine and performance, Veach said.
“Now listen, how that works, you know everything is different and everyone recovers differently,” Veach explained. “I think with that injury with the time leading up for the season, Rick has here a mid-August return. You know how that works, that’s always to be determined until the player actually reports back to camp and goes through the offseason to see where he is.”
Under that scenario, Fisher would likely start training camp on the physically unable to perform list before being cleared to return to full football activities.
A study published 2018 in Foot and Ankle International found that NFL players returned from surgery after about 340 days. That recovery timeline would essentially wipeout Fisher’s 2021 season. A mid-August return would put Fisher’s recovery at approximately 226 days, or seven and a half months.
But the Chiefs aren’t without reason for optimism. Linebacker Derrick Johnson torn his Achilles tendon on Dec. 6, 2016, and was healthy enough to return for the start of training camp in July 2017, a similar timeline to the projection for Fisher.
Injuries and COVID-19 opt-outs forced the Chiefs to juggle their offensive line throughout the 2020 season. Veach acknowledging that Fisher going down during the AFC Championship game against the Buffalo Bills loomed large in the team’s Super Bowl LV loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“Certainly the final blow was losing Fisher in that Bills game,” Veach said. “That was a daunting task to go against that front in the Super Bowl.”
Veach also remains optimistic he’ll have right tackle Mitchell Schwart back for the start of training camp as well. Schwartz underwent a disc repair on Feb. 24.
“We’re hopeful both these guys will complete their rehab and be available for training camp and to start the 2021 season,” Veach said.