On the Wednesday mailbag edition of the AP Laboratory, we were asked what the optimal offensive line for the stretch run would be if everyone on the Kansas City Chiefs who could be available is healthy.
Here’s what we came up with:
LT Eric Fisher
The no-brainer here. Fisher at points this season was the only starting offensive lineman from the Super Bowl on the field for the Chiefs. He’s not going anywhere — and should obviously continue starting. The remainder of the season is important for him as he prepares to posture potentially for an extension.
LG Martinas Rankin
When healthy, Rankin is the most talented interior offensive lineman the Chiefs have on the roster. He flashed in a limited sample size last season with plus movement skills. The interior offensive line simply has not cut it this year — and it would be difficult to envision it getting worse with Rankin. It’s a risky proposition, considering he hasn’t played in over a calendar year, but if they can get him prepared by the playoffs, he’s the best player to play at left guard.
C Austin Reiter
Daniel Kilgore stepped in for a few games this season to replace Reiter. It went great the first week against Buffalo and then deteriorated to the point that another change was made. Reiter had one of — if not his best — game as a Chief in the Super Bowl. Hopefully he plays to that level at the end of the year.
RG Stefen Wisniewski
This is an indictment on Andrew Wylie rather than a vote of confidence in Wisniewski. That’s not to say signing the veteran guard won’t pan out — just that we can’t equate everything to what we saw from him last year. Wisniewski is only a few weeks removed from being waived by the Steelers due to an injury. There are so many unknowns with how he’s healed from his pectoral injury and whether he’ll be able to replicate his performance after aging another year. However, the interior offensive line has stayed a mess, and it can’t get worse.
RT Mitchell Schwartz
Swing tackle Mike Remmers has performed admirably in replacing the All-Pro right tackle. If Schwartz comes back, the Chiefs can at least be confident knowing they have a capable replacement to man the right tackle spot. If Schwartz is healthy enough to go for a stretch run, he’s not losing his job. Lingering back injuries are hard to overcome and sustain success with — so credit Schwartz for accomplishing what he has in his career with that issue. How much longer he can go is a mystery, but he undoubtedly deserves to be out there when he’s available. He’s the Chiefs’ best offensive lineman when healthy.
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