Notebook: Chiefs’ Andy Reid explains decision to not start Eric Fisher

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Chiefs coach Andy Reid knew something was wrong with offensive tackle Eric Fisher before Sunday’s game against the Houston Texans.

Fisher, who returns from a high-ankle sprain, put in a full practice the entire week and was set to start at right tackle.

Sept. 13, 2015; Houston; Chiefs right tackle Jah Reid (75) blocks Texans defensive end J.J. Watt as quarterback Alex Smith (11) sets to make a pass during the first half at NRG Stadium. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Sept. 13, 2015; Houston; Chiefs right tackle Jah Reid (75) blocks Texans defensive end J.J. Watt as quarterback Alex Smith (11) sets to make a pass during the first half at NRG Stadium. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

The Chiefs, however, surprisingly listed him as questionable on Friday’s injury report, and the reason for Fisher not starting was revealed after the game.

“I was watching the (practice) tape on Thursday and it wasn’t right,” Reid told reporters of Fisher’s ankle injury during his postgame media session. “He was trying to push through it, but he was having a hard time getting his hips through and rolling over that so I said. ‘Hey listen we can’t put him in a position like that.’ So we went with Jah.”

Jah, of course, would be offensive lineman Jah Reid, who joined the Chiefs as a free agent just a week ago.

The Chiefs head coach said he communicated consistently with Fisher throughout the week, and the offensive tackle indicated he wanted to fight through it, even practicing Friday.

“I wanted to see where he was at,” the coach said. “High-ankle sprains are weird. They tweak, and then sometimes you can pull out of that thing. We were kind of keeping a close eye on him. We had him do some scout team stuff, some regular stuff.”

Jah Reid got some repetitions at right tackle Friday, and the Chiefs ultimately made the decision to go with him over Fisher during the 27-20 win over the Texans.

“For being here for such a short period of time,” the head coach said of Jah Reid, “I mean, you’ve got to take your hat off to him for getting in there and playing the way he did.”

Fisher saw action late in the game after relieving left tackle Donald Stephenson, who suffered a finger injury. Stephenson’s injury is not considered serious.

OFFENSIVE LINE HOLDS 

Arguably the biggest concern heading into Sunday’s game surrounded how the offensive line, which featured a new starter at every position from the 2014, would contain Texans defensive end J.J. Watt.

Watt certainly had his production, totaling nine solo tackles with six resulting in a loss, two sacks and three quarterback hits.

But outside of Watt, the offensive line consisting of left tackle Donald Stephens, left guard Ben Grubbs, rookie center Mitch Morse, right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif and right tackle Jah Reid held its own, as the Chiefs dominated the first half before holding off a late Houston rally.

“They had a big challenge on the road,” quarterback Alex Smith told reporters after the game. “This defensive line, they were really good. This was going to be a tough challenge. Five different guys than we had last year going, it’s asking a lot and those guys stepped up. They deserve a lot of credit.”

The Chiefs head coach agreed, adding there is room for improvement.

“I thought our guys for the most part did a good job,” Reid said. “We’ve got to keep getting better. That’s the challenge now because every game you play now teams have tape on you. They’re going to study it. Can you take your game up another level that week? That will be very important as we go through the season.”

DEFINING A CATCH

Alex Smith connected on 22 of 33 passes for 243 yards and three touchdowns in Sunday’s win, but arguably his best throw didn’t count.

Smith found wide receiver Jeremy Maclin on a 39-yard bomb close to the left sideline early in the third quarter. Maclin took at least three steps before falling on his back inbounds after contact with a defender. He slid out of bounds after being down by contact and the ball appeared to move as he rolled over.

The officials originally called it a catch, and then the Texans challenged the play. After reviewing the play, the play was reversed and ruled incomplete.

The ruling didn’t come with controversy and even Maclin is left wondering what defines a reception.

“I don’t really know what qualifies,” Maclin told reporters after the game. “I thought if you catch it then go to the ground it’s a different story.

“I think the difference between (this and Dez Bryant’s incompletion in NFC Playoffs last year) was his ball hit the ground a little bit, but in this case it didn’t hit the ground at all. It is what it is. The rules are the rules. I think there needs to be a seminar on what is and what isn’t (a catch).”

Maclin finished the game with five catches for 52 yards on nine targets.

WITHIN REACH

Inside linebacker Derrick Johnson entered Sunday’s game with 985 career tackles, leaving him 15 shy of breaking the team record of 999 held by linebacker Gary Spani.

Johnson, who returned to his first action since rupturing an Achilles tendon in the 2014 season opener, totaled eight tackles against the Texans and now has 993 on his career.

He could set the team record Thursday night when the Chiefs host the Denver Broncos at Arrowhead Stadium.

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Herbie Teope is the lead Chiefs beat writer for ChiefsDigest.com and The Topeka Capital-Journal. Use the contact page to reach him or find him on Twitter: @HerbieTeope.

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