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Kansas City Chiefs roster bubble: Plenty of changes to young o-line coming

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Who are the KC Chiefs locks and bubble players on the o-line? Nick Jacobs (@Jacobs71) gives his take as we await the start of training camp.

John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

The Kansas City Chiefs offensive line has youth across the board with the most accrued veteran being five-year pro Jeff Linkenbach. That youth could spell for some growing pains for a line that will battle some of the top defenses in the NFL this season. Without full pads on during the spring practices, the offensive line was difficult to evaluate.

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Locks to make the roster

OT Eric Fisher: The first overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft comes in with lofty expectations for his sophomore season. Fisher shifts to Alex Smith's blindside in 2014. He is also coming off shoulder surgery and a sports hernia following his rookie campaign. How much of an impact those injuries had will show quickly in camp. Fisher would drop his head and lean on opponents at camp last season. He was also slow in getting his hands into the defender to control him at the moment of contact. Fisher was able to battle through his technique flaws by resetting his anchor and using his athletic ability to win the fight. His growth or lack thereof in his technique will be intriguing this camp.

G Jeff Allen: The Illinois alumnus begins his third season starting at left guard. Allen spent the offseason training with his fellow linemate Donald Stephenson and former teammate Geoff Schwartz at L. Bentley O-Line Academy in Scottsdale, Ariz. Terez Paylor of the Kansas City Star and Herbie Teope of Chiefs Spin have great articles detailing the academy. Allen needed to work on removing some of the layers to help his bend. The removal of layers would also enhance his hip explosion in getting to the second level and pulling on plays. He also needed to enhance his strength for run blocking and his punch in pass pro sets. Allen can also be a veteran presence for Fisher. Year three needs to be a big season for Allen.

C Rodney Hudson: The longest tenured Chief on the offensive line begins the final season of his rookie contract. Hudson bounced back in 2013 after a devastating leg injury that knocked him out in Week 3 of the 2012 season. Hudson showed minimal effects from his injury and seemed to pick up where he left off. His biggest challenges this offseason was to increase his quickness in space. Hudson also needed to increase his strength, so he could effectively negate nose tackles one on one at the line of scrimmage. Hudson handled the calls well in Reid's system. The upcoming season will be a make or break for Hudson.

OT Donald Stephenson: Stephenson showed up to training camp last season with impressive strength and exhibited a mean streak. He displayed an improved punch and a desire to dominate. The third-year starter joined his teammate Jeff Allen at the L. Bentley O-Line Academy to improve upon a great season. Stephenson has continued to work on his craft since his rookie season and it could pay off big this fall.

C Eric Kush: The Pennsylvania native showed promise in his rookie season despite not logging many snaps. Kush showed great quickness in reach blocks and his ability to pull. He was the best on the offensive line in his ability to get to the second level. Kush put together good tape against the Chargers in Week 17. His biggest challenge is improving his strength to dominate opponents.

On the bubble

G Rishaw Johnson: Johnson needs to improve in his understanding of angles. His ability to execute will determine if he has a shot at the starting right guard position.

G Zach Fulton: Fulton, a rookie, will be a serious challenger for the right guard spot. He saw reps with the first team offense during spring practices.

OT J'Marcus Webb: Webb currently provides the Chiefs an additional right tackle if Stephenson needs to move to the left side.

G/T Jeff Linkenbach: Linkenbach, a versatile lineman, worked at guard and tackle in spring practices. He was signed as a free agent this offseason.

G / T Laurent Duvernay-Tardif: Duvernay-Tardif is a raw piece of clay. He will need time to adjust to the NFL game. The athletic ability is there but I anticipate him on the practice squad to start off his NFL career.

OT Ryan McKee: He was briefly seen with the first team on the right side this offseason.

G Rokevious Watkins: Watkins has reportedly been suspended four games for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy. It's the second time Watkins has received a suspension for violating that policy. The suspension is a big blow to his NFL career.

G Otis Hudson, Ben Gottschalk and Ricky Henry: Young players who will need to prove it in training camp.