With starting left tackle and former No. 1 overall pick Eric Fisher confirmed to have torn his Achilles during Sunday’s AFC Championship win, the Kansas City Chiefs offensive line will again take on a new look in Super Bowl LV.
Fisher’s absence has now left Austin Reiter as the only Week 1 starter still locked into his position at center. To further exacerbate the losses of Fisher, plus starting guards Kelechi Osemele (torn knee tendons) and Laurent Duvernay-Tardif (COVID-19 opt-out) early in the season, All-Pro right tackle Mitchell Schwartz has also been sidelined since Week 6 with a lingering back injury.
Andy Reid: ‘I Can’t Tell You I’m Optimistic About’ Schwartz
Toward the end of the regular season, head coach Andy Reid gave mostly non-answers to questions of when the 31-year-old might be ready to take the field again.
However, his latest update on Schwartz may have been the final death blow to his chance of returning this season — and possibly in a Chiefs uniform at all considering his $10 million salary cap hit in 2021.
“I don’t even know how optimistic I am about that,” Reid said, via Aaron Ladd of Kansas City’s 41 Action News. “I know the other guys are doing a nice job and we should be okay there. The guys that we have will step in and then if Mitch [Schwartz] can — if he can work it out where he can go, then that’s great. There’s nobody that wants to be there more than him, but I can’t tell you I’m that optimistic about it.”
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Fisher Could Be Sidelined Until August
According to FOX Sports athlete injury and performance analyst Dr. Matt Provencher on Sunday, a full Achilles tear typically requires about six to seven months of recovery and rehabilitation. Assuming Fisher moves along on that same trajectory, the Chiefs might reasonably expect the two-time Pro Bowler to return to football activities around the back half of training camp in August.
Like Schwartz, Fisher’s health could ultimately dictate his financial future. The eighth-year starter, who recently turned 30 years old on January 5, is scheduled to account for a $15.1 million cap hit in 2021 as he enters the final season of a four-year, $48 million contract extension.
Mahomes Sends Bills Running Despite O-Line, Turf Toe
Despite a reshuffled line in front of him, Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes still managed a dominant 325-yard, three-touchdown showing against the Buffalo Bills’ 13th ranked pass defense on Sunday — all while battling through a “legitimate” turf toe injury.
His 325 yards were a new postseason career-high, aided by the fact that he was only sacked once on the night resulting in no yardage lost. The same could not be said for Bills counterpart Josh Allen, who was pressured on 47% of his dropbacks, per ESPN’s Ed Werder.
However, Kansas City’s lineup may continue to shift before the reigning Super Bowl champions take the field in two weeks to defend their crown, especially considering Bucs pass rushers Shaquil Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul are coming off of 5.0 combined sacks of Aaron Rodgers in the NFC Championship Game.
If the Chiefs opt for the same frontline used following Fisher’s exit, Mahomes would have Mike Remmers, Nick Allegretti, Reiter, Stefen Wisniewski and Andrew Wylie protecting him from left to right against Todd Bowles’ rising defensive unit.
Fortunately, in Remmers, the Chiefs could have the right man for the job to take down the Bucs in Tampa Bay. Or at least Reid believes so.
“He’s dirty tough,” Reid told reporters on Monday, via The Kansas City Star’s Herbie Teope. “I joke, he’s like a throwback. He is Red Beard. He breaks out his sword, and he’s ready to go.”
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Chris Licata is an NFL contributor covering the Kansas City Chiefs from enemy territory in Denver, Colorado. Follow him on Twitter @Chris__Licata or join the Heavy on Chiefs Facebook community for the latest out of Chiefs Kingdom!