Eric Fisher

AFC Injury Rumors: Bengals, Dolphins, Leonard

Cincinnati will host the Ravens in the Wild Card round of the playoffs this weekend, but they will have to do it without two of their starters on the offensive line, according to Mitch Stacy of The Associated Press. Head coach Zac Taylor confirmed that right guard Alex Cappa will join right tackle La’el Collins on the sideline this Sunday night.

Cappa had his ankle rolled over late in the third quarter last week while blocking in the pocket. Initial fears were that the injury would end his season, keeping him out for the entirety of the playoffs, and while Taylor is holding out hope for future games this January, we know that Cappa will not play this weekend.

Cappa joins Collins, who saw his season come to an end after suffering a knee injury in a Week 16 win over the Patriots. Collins has been replaced by Hakeem Adeniji who played in a backup role this season after starting 13 games last year. Adeniji drew criticism for his pass protection in the playoffs last season, when the offensive line drew most of the blame for the team’s loss in Super Bowl LVI.

Cappa will be replaced by backup Max Scharping. After starting 33 games in his first three seasons with the Texans, Scharping was picked up by the Bengals after being waived just prior to the season. The offensive line was a huge weakness last year for a Bengals team that still made it to the Super Bowl. They may have to struggle over that hurdle once again if they want to win it all in February.

Here are a couple other injury rumors from around the AFC, starting with another playoff squad:

  • If the Bengals’ offensive line situation is considered bad, the Dolphins‘ has to be considered downright tragic as the team practiced today without three starters and three backups on the offensive line alone, according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. Starting left guard Liam Eichenberg missed today as he deals with a hand injury. After that, the remaining five linemen who missed practice are the team’s top five tackles. First, tackles Austin Jackson and Eric Fisher remain on injured reserve with an ankle and calf injury, respectively. Jackson is eligible to return from IR but isn’t quite ready to, while Fisher is not yet eligible to return. Right tackle Brandon Shell is dealing with a high ankle sprain and mild knee sprain and is likely going to be out this weekend in Buffalo. Kendall Lamm has been dealing with an ankle issue and is questionable to play on Sunday. Lastly, left tackle Terron Armstead missed practice as he deals with multiple ailments including injuries to his hip, foot, knee, and pectoral muscle, according to Jackson. Not one to be subdued by pain, Armstead told Jackson that as long as his muscles function, he’ll be playing against the Bills. Potential backup options include Greg Little and starting right guard Robert Hunt, with Robert Jones filling in the guard spot. Geron Christian, Michael Dieter, and practice squad linemen should all be ready to hear their names called, as well.
  • Colts star linebacker Shaquille Leonard missed most of the season this year as he dealt with a nerve issue that has limited the use of his left calf. Leonard had back surgery to the address the issue in June but never saw the results he’d hoped for. Leonard and Indianapolis staff found it necessary to undergo a second surgery and, according to Joel A. Erickson of the Indy Star, it seems to have been much more effective. Leonard told Erickson that, after the second surgery, “the nerves are re-firing in his leg…in a way that didn’t happen after the first surgery.” Leonard is one of the premier players at his position, so signs that he is starting to progress back to his old self are welcome signs, for sure.

Dolphins Place T Eric Fisher On IR, Claim T Geron Christian

It does not look like Eric Fisher will play any Dolphins games. Signed last month, the veteran left tackle is now on injured reserve. The Dolphins placed Fisher on IR and claimed tackle Geron Christian off waivers from the Chiefs on Thursday.

Although Fisher agreed to terms with the Dolphins on Dec. 5, he did not seen any game action. The former No. 1 overall pick will be shut down for a minimum of four games. Considering Miami is not a lock to reach the playoffs, Fisher’s season is almost certainly done.

Fisher, 31, missed the past two Dolphins games because of a calf issue. While he returned to practice in a limited capacity Thursday, the Dolphins will move him off the 53-man roster to make room for Christian. A two-time Pro Bowler with the Chiefs, Fisher made 15 starts for the Colts last season. Indianapolis opted not to bring back the veteran this offseason.

The Dolphins signed Fisher on the same day they placed right tackle Austin Jackson on IR for a second time this season. Jackson has only played two games this season — Weeks 1 and 12. The former first-round pick can be activated from IR again, but he has not given the Dolphins much to count on this season. The Dolphins have tried Jackson at guard and left tackle as a pro. Fisher was unable to provide insurance behind Terron Armstead or new right tackle starter Brandon Shell, who was also an in-season addition. Armstead has not practiced this week, being listed on Miami’s injury report with four separate maladies. The high-priced free agent missed Week 17.

A former third-round Washington draftee in 2018, Christian has spent this season in Kansas City. Despite the Chiefs being without right tackle Lucas Niang for much of the season, Christian has seen action on just 11 offensive plays this year. He has 16 career starts on his resume, however, including a career-high eight for the Texans last season.

Dolphins Sign LT Eric Fisher, Place T Austin Jackson On IR

The Dolphins have been hit with injuries at the offensive tackle spot recently, and the team is set to make a notable move to address the position. Miami is signing veteran free agent Eric Fisher and placing tackle Austin Jackson on IR, reports ESPN’s Adam Schefter (Twitter link). The team has confirmed the move.

Fisher, 31, enjoyed a standout eight-year tenure with the Chiefs which included a Super Bowl victory. During the 2020 postseason, however, he suffered a torn Achilles which led to his release. The two-time Pro Bowler signed a one-year deal with the Colts and protected the blindside in Indianapolis last season.

His 2021 performance (during which he started 15 games and earned a 68.2 PFF grade) was hampered by the lingering effects of the Achilles injury and other ailments, however, and a deal keeping him with the Colts could not be finalized. That has left him on the free agent market into December this season, allowing him to sign with a team in need of depth late in the season.

Miami certainly meets that criteria, given the pectoral injury suffered in Week 12 by left tackle Terron Armstead. The high-priced free agent signing could return at some point in the regular season, but the team will understandably be cautious with his recovery. Doing so would have been easier if not for Jackson suffering an ankle injury at the same time.

With the IR placement, the latter will now miss at least the next four weeks of the season, after both he and Armstead were unable to suit up for yesterday’s loss to the 49ers. With Miami thin at the tackle spot, Fisher should immediately be able to at least provide experienced depth behind Greg Little and Brandon Shell, both of whom have primarily played at right tackle.

The 8-4 Dolphins are well-positioned to make the playoffs this season, but a drop-off in play up front could threaten their postseason chances. If Fisher is capable of playing at the level he demonstrated during his time in Kansas City, though, calling him into action could significantly ease the time spent without Armstead available.

Latest On Tyron Smith, Cowboys’ Offensive Line

The sentiment regarding Cowboys left tackle Tyron Smith was altered from optimistic immediately following his injury sustained last night to crippling once it was learned hours later that he had suffered a torn hamstring. More has come out today regarding his recovery plan, and the options Dallas now has to weigh. 

Smith will undergo surgery tomorrow, reports ESPN’s Todd Archer (Twitter link). As had been thought, the timeline to recover from the procedure will keep him sidelined until at least December. That represents, of course, a major blow to Dallas’ offensive line, but leaves open the possibility that the 31-year-old could return in time for the postseason.

Smith’s absence leaves plenty of question marks throughout the o-line. Projected starting left guard Connor McGovern – who head coach Mike McCarthy indicated is still ahead of first-round rookie Tyler Smith – was scheduled to start at center during the Cowboys’ preseason finale. “Connor also has value at other positions, which I value a lot,” McCarthy added, via the team’s website, referring to his ability to play as a jumbo tight end or fullback as well.

With Tyron Smith on the shelf for the foreseeable future, though, Tyler Smith may be needed at either tackle or guard earlier than the team envisioned. The latter is dealing with a minor ankle injury, though owner Jerry Jones indicated that he is not concerned about his Week 1 availability. Missing the team’s final preseason game, though, would be significant given the shuffling now required amongst the starters.

In the aftermath of Smith’s diagnosis, Jones said that the front office is “giving thought” to the idea of adding a veteran blindside protector in free agency (Twitter link via Archer). On that point, Archer’s colleague Ed Werner tweets that Eric Fisher “wants to play this season” and has already received offers from nine teams. The former No. 1 pick is being “selective,” as evidenced by the fact he has still not signed despite widespread interest. Fisher played 15 games for the Colts last season, after his eight-year Chiefs tenure ended with a torn Achilles.

As noted by Jon Machota of The Athletic (subscription required), Dallas has internal options to consider, including swing tackle Josh Ball and fifth-round rookie Matt Waletzko. The Cowboys also have the third-most cap space in the league ($21.5MM), however, so signing someone like Fisher, Jason Peters or Daryl Williams would be feasible. The same could be true of a trade acquisition; Machota names former Patriots first-rounder Isaiah Wynn as a potential target.

Regardless of how they replace Smith, the Cowboys’ decisions along the o-line will go a long way in determining the offense’s effectiveness during a season once again filled with expectation.

Colts Unlikely To Re-Sign Eric Fisher

Eric Fisher is unlikely to re-sign with the Colts, according to sources who spoke with Adam Schefter of (Twitter link). The two sides have been working to hammer out a new contract, but all indications are that the left tackle will be heading elsewhere when free agency opens next week. 

Fisher earned Pro Bowl nods with the Chiefs in 2018 and 2020. In the latter season, he suffered a torn Achilles in the AFC Championship Game, keeping him out of the Super Bowl. His presence was clearly missed – the Chiefs’ disastrous blocking effort opened the door for the Buccaneers’ victory.

Before that Fisher was mostly healthy and started every game at left tackle for Kansas City from 2014-2018. The Colts, banking on his recovery, inked Fisher to a one-year, $9.4MM deal last spring. Fisher went on to play in 15 games for Indy, but he didn’t look much like his old self.

He was coming off the Achilles (and) I thought he had a seven-game stretch where he played really good,” GM Chris Ballard said recently (via 107.5 The Fan). “And then he had a pec and a knee (injury) at the end of the year. He tried to fight through it, and it affected him some.”

Ultimately, it sounds like Fisher’s asking price didn’t line up with what the Colts had in mind. With that, they’ll look elsewhere for left tackle help and, perhaps, solidify the position for the long-term.

Colts QB Carson Wentz To Start Week 1

Colts QB Carson Wentz will be under center for the regular season opener against the Seahawks this afternoon, as Tom Pelissero and Ian Rapoport of write. A Week 1 return was looking more and more likely for Indy’s new signal-caller, and his presence will obviously be key in the Colts’ push for a return to the postseason.

Wentz underwent surgery on August 2 to deal with an old broken bone in his foot that had chipped and splintered. The Colts initially announced a vague five- to 12-week timetable, and according to Pelissero and Rapoport, the wide range of possible return dates was because no one knew until Wentz went under the knife what type of surgery he would require.

If doctors needed to insert a screw to secure the splintered piece of bone, Wentz would have missed two to three months. Luckily, the bone fragment was simply removed, and Wentz’s recovery proceeded without complications.

Head coach Frank Reich said Wentz will not be limited in any way, though the offensive play-calling may be just a bit more conservative than it normally would be.

“As far as what he can do, he can do everything,” Reich said. “What will we actually call? Will we keep the reins on a little bit? Probably. Probably so. I just think that makes sense. I just think we’ll manage it. We’ll be smart.”

Wentz will be protected by All-World left guard Quenton Nelson, as Adam Schefter of tweets. Nelson underwent foot surgery of his own in August, but he subsequently battled a back issue that put his Week 1 status in doubt.

Unfortunately, left tackle Eric Fisher will not suit up today, as Schefter notes in a separate tweet. That means Julie’n Davenport will be protecting Wentz’s blind side.

Colts’ Eric Fisher Returns To Practice; Week 1 In Play

The Colts signed Eric Fisher knowing he might not be ready to resume his career until October, and the Pro Bowl left tackle’s recent placement on the reserve/COVID-19 list further complicated his comeback. But a return could still commence Sunday.

Fisher is off Indianapolis’ coronavirus list and practicing Wednesday in a limited capacity, marking his first practice as a Colt. The team did not place Fisher on its reserve/PUP list, despite the ninth-year veteran spending the preseason on Indy’s active/PUP list. A PUP designation to start the regular season would have meant a six-game absence. The way it’s going, Fisher stands to beat that timetable by a wide margin.

I look at him and think, man, he looks ready to go, but he hasn’t done anything in 10 days. We’re going to figure that out over the next couple of days,” Frank Reich said (via the Indianapolis Star’s Joel Erickson) of Fisher’s status. “… I think what I want to be guilty of, is, ‘Let’s push it. We can pull him back. Let’s try to get him ready now; let’s try to get him ready to play this week.’ Maybe that’s not realistic, but let’s try, and we can always pull him back.”

This would be a boon for a Colts team that has sustained injuries on its offensive front. Quenton Nelson recovered from foot surgery but is currently battling a back injury. And potential Fisher stopgap Sam Tevi is out for the season. The Colts have Julie’n Davenport and guard/tackle Matt Pryor as starting options in the even Fisher is not ready for Sunday’s Seahawks tilt.

Fisher, 30, suffered a torn Achilles in the AFC championship game, setting the Chiefs on course for a disastrous blocking effort in Super Bowl LV. While core-muscle surgery interfered with his 2019 season, Fisher has otherwise stayed healthy throughout his career. The former No. 1 overall pick started every game at left tackle for Kansas City from 2014-18.

Injury Notes: Fisher, Cannon, Wagner

The Colts were hoping for a Week 1 return for new LT Eric Fisher, who has been rehabbing from the torn Achilles tendon he suffered as a member of the Chiefs in January. According to Joel A. Erickson of the Indianapolis Star, Fisher had a real chance to suit up for the September 12 opener against Seattle, but his recent positive test for COVID-19 has seriously complicated matters.

Fisher’s positive result has forced him to quarantine for 10 days — which suggests he is not vaccinated — so he is unable to continue his rehab at the team facility. As such, there is no way for the Colts to comment on his availability until he is activated off the reserve/COVID-19 list. Until he is ready to go, Indy will roll with Julie’n Davenport at left tackle.

Let’s take a look at several other injury-related items:

  • Texans OL Marcus Cannon was recently activated off the PUP list, and as veteran NFL reporter Aaron Wilson tweets, there is optimism that Cannon could be ready for Week 1. Houston acquired Cannon in a March trade with the Patriots, but the 33-year-old underwent knee surgery in June and had been recovering ever since. For now, Houston is set to deploy second-year pro Charlie Heck at RT, but Cannon could push Heck for that job while also providing valuable depth at multiple spots along the O-line.
  • The Seahawks have been without LB Bobby Wagner for the past few practices, but there is no cause for alarm. Per head coach Pete Carroll (via Curtis Crabtree of Pro Football Talk), Wagner is simply recovering from a minor knee procedure similar to those he has undergone in recent preseasons. The future Hall-of-Famer has missed just two games over the past six years.
  • The fact that Broncos OL Brett Jones landed on IR prior to final cutdown day suggested that his season was over, and that turned out to be the case. Mike Klis of recently tweeted that Jones suffered a torn biceps in the team’s second preseason game and required season-ending surgery. Jones, who appeared in 61 games (19 starts) with the Giants and Vikings over the past five seasons, just signed with Denver in July.

Minor NFL Transactions: 8/26/21

We’ll keep track of today’s minor moves here:

Arizona Cardinals

Buffalo Bills

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Indianapolis Colts

Seattle Seahawks

Tennessee Titans

Washington Football Team

Latest On Colts’ Left Tackle Situation

The Colts formed an interesting post-Anthony Castonzo plan at left tackle this offseason, signing Eric Fisher to take over after his Achilles rehab concludes. But the longtime Chiefs edge protector is not certain to be ready by Week 1. Indianapolis’ stopgap options have not impressed thus far.

Julie’n Davenport, Sam Tevi and Will Holden represent the trio vying to be the fill-in while Fisher recovers and the Colts’ swing tackle once Fisher is back, and Jim Ayello of the Indianapolis Star notes all three have struggled during training camp. Colts O-line coach Chris Strausser said it is somewhat disappointing no clear-cut favorite has emerged to be the team’s stopgap solution here.

Indy signed Davenport and Tevi this offseason, while Holden arrived last December after being plucked off Baltimore’s practice squad. Davenport has taken the bulk of the first-team reps lately, per Ayello, but the Colts are planning to also give him work at right tackle to prepare for a potential swing role. Davenport, who has started for the Texans and Dolphins, began Colts camp on the team’s reserve/COVID-19 list.

Neither Tevi nor Davenport has impressed as a starter during their respective careers. The Colts gave each one-year deals, with Tevi’s guarantee ($1MM) topping Davenport’s ($388K). But one could well end up being entrusted to protect Carson Wentz — or one of his backups — come Week 1. This underwhelming left tackle competition has taken place while Quenton Nelson recovers from a foot injury. The All-Pro guard is also not a lock to be ready by Week 1.

When the Colts signed Fisher, marking a reunion between he and ex-Chiefs exec Chris Ballard, the prospect of the ninth-year veteran not being ready until October loomed. Frank Reich said recently the 30-year-old tackle looked “really good” in his solo ramp-up workouts, but the timetable here remains murky. Fisher suffered the Achilles tear in the AFC championship game.

As far as outside options go, Russell Okung remains a free agent. The veteran starter, who is 32, has been waiting for a viable offer. The Bears, who may be without rookie Teven Jenkins for the season, just signed Jason Peters to take away one option here. Beyond Okung, the free agent market is fairly lean at this position. How the Colts’ group looks in the team’s second preseason game may determine whether another outside option will be considered, though Fisher’s timetable represents the key component here.