KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Chiefs left tackle Eric Fisher didn’t have the benefit of a complete offseason in 2014 to prepare for the regular season.
Fisher, the No.1 overall pick of the 2013 NFL Draft, underwent offseason shoulder and sports hernia procedures last year.
Both events limited Fisher to individual position drills throughout organized team activities (OTAs) and mandatory minicamp, and he didn’t see his first full practice until training camp.
But the scenario proves much different a year later.
“I’ve been working since mid-January and just compared to where I was last year at this time,” Fisher said during Tuesday’s conference call with Chiefs beat writers, “it’s a complete 180 and it just feels great to be healthy, strong and have the experience under my belt. I am stoked for this year; I cannot wait for that season to roll around.”
The 6-foot-8 Fisher said he weighs 314 pounds and lost 20 to 30 pounds of body fat.
For comparison, he played his rookie season at 295 to 300 pounds and reported to 2014 training camp at 315 pounds. Fisher is comfortable where he currently weighs.
“I think I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been in in my life,” he said, “especially at that weight.”
Fisher took some time off after the regular season ended, but then committed himself to getting ready in late January, early February.
He spent the past few months working out with a personal trainer in his hometown of Rochester, Mich., and he added a new routine at a local gym to help get in shape.
“Got into boxing huge,” Fisher said. “I think that has really helped my body development. I’ve been working on my punch a lot. It’s one of the things I want to improve in my game.”
The short, precise movements involved with boxing should also help Fisher with his footwork, which often calls for quick forward and backward movements to take on pass rushers.
“It’s full-body movement, coordination,” he said. “I couldn’t believe when I started it, it kind of felt awkward, something I had never done before. But by the end it felt so smooth. My hand speed probably doubled. I really did enjoy it and just trying to keep up with it back here also.”
Now that Fisher is back in the Kansas City area, he will find another new face lining up next to him at the guard position.
Fisher played right tackle during his rookie season and had Geoff Schwartz to his immediate left. The Chiefs moved Fisher to his natural position of left tackle in 2014 and he had Mike McGlynn and Jeff Linkenbach to his immediate right.
With McGlynn and Linkenback not returning, Fisher has an upgrade to his right in the form of two-time Pro Bowl guard Ben Grubbs, whom the Chiefs acquired in a trade from the New Orleans Saints in exchange for a fifth-round pick.
“Any guy who has been to a few Pro Bowls, you can learn a lot from,” Fisher said. “I am trying to get there myself.”
For his part, Grubbs said on April 20, the first day of the offseason workout program, he won’t shy from taking on a leadership role on the offensive line if called upon.
The 31-year-old Grubbs points out he leads by example, but he also understands his current position as the oldest player on the offensive line could lead to mentorship opportunities.
“There are a lot of things the younger guys may not have experience,” Grubbs said, “and if I can add any value to the conversation in that sense, then I’m definitely willing to speak up.”
Grubbs already made an impression in the short time Fisher has been around him.
“Ben is a great guy, spent two weeks with him now,” Fisher said. “I’m really looking forward to getting on the field with him, getting that connection and getting on the same page and working together, hopefully for a few years here.”
Of course, working with Grubbs isn’t the only thing a rejuvenated Fisher looks forward to.
“I really feel the healthiest I’ve ever been,” Fisher said. “I’m ready to go.”
Herbie Teope is the lead beat writer and reporter for ChiefsDigest.com. Use the contact page to reach him or find him on Twitter: