Chiefs in search of ‘five best guys’ on offensive line

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Chiefs spent part of the offseason upgrading an offensive line that played a large role in allowing 49 total sacks in 2014.

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith (11) calls an audible in the first half of an NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday, Nov. 16, 2014. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith (11) calls an audible in the first half of an NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday, Nov. 16, 2014. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Kansas City chose to not bring back guards Mike McGlynn and Jeff Linkenbach, and right tackle Ryan Harris. Also gone is center Rodney Hudson, who signed a free-agent deal with the Oakland Raiders.

The Chiefs then signed guard Paul Fanaika to a free-agent contract and acquired two-time Pro Bowl guard Ben Grubbs in a trade with the New Orleans Saints in exchange for a fifth-round pick. The Chiefs also used a second-round pick on offensive lineman Mitch Morse in the 2015 NFL Draft.

Now the search is on to find the starting lineup.

And it began Tuesday on the first day of organized team activities (OTAs) with Eric Fisher at left tackle, Grubbs at left guard, third-year pro Eric Kush was at center, Jeff Allen at right guard and Donald Stephenson at right tackle.

“We’re kind of playing everybody in all different spots, so we don’t even care,” coach Andy Reid said. “Tomorrow will probably be different. We’re going to find the five best guys, that’s what we’re trying to get to.”

Fisher and Grubbs project as mainstays on the left side, but the center position and right side of the offensive line could experience adjustments leading to training camp.

Still, the first lineup of OTA practice with veterans, each of whom knows the offensive system, offered arguably the best look.

And at least one of the team’s top offensive stars liked what he saw out of the backfield.

“It felt comfortable,” running back Jamaal Charles said. “I feel like we’ve got some guys that have been playing for a while. We’ve got vet guys up there that can help the young guys. I feel so comfortable with that line now. Not saying I didn’t last year, but I feel a lot more comfortable than I did last year.”

Meanwhile, second-year pro Zach Fulton, who started all 16 games at right guard in 2014, rotated at center during Tuesday’s practice.

Reid said Fulton practiced at the position during training camp last year, and the team is aware what the 6-5, 316-pound Fulton is capable of.

“We rotate a few guys in at that center spot,” Reid said. “It’s an important position. If something happens, if he’s not the starter and somebody else is or however that works, you want to make sure you have more than one.”

Morse, who could eventually challenge Kush for the starting center job, took repetitions at the position during 7-on-7 drills, which are performed with the quarterback in the shotgun position.

But Reid said to not read too much into Morse having opportunities for shotgun snaps,

“We rotate all of those guys through and listen, it’s probably two-fold,” Reid said. “You can’t get enough reps, so things I told him during that period was, ‘When you come over here – even though it was 7-on-7 – you’re taking all of your movements fast and according to the protection that is given to you. And so it’s not a rest period and you get good work in.’”

The Chiefs have nine more OTA practices, followed by a three-day mandatory minicamp to continue tinkering with the offensive line before reporting in late July for training camp in St. Joseph, Mo.

And that sound like what the team’s head coach has in mind.

“I really don’t care where they play,” Reid said. “I just want the five best guys, and then we line up and we go play.”

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Herbie Teope is the lead beat writer and reporter for ChiefsDigest.com. Use the contact page to reach him or find him on Twitter:

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