Eric Fisher

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 ESPN.com (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 NFL.com 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 ESPN.com 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 9News.com 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.

AFC Notes: Browns, Fisher, Broncos, Fleming

The Browns made some front office hires recently, and for one spot they simply plucked a player off their roster. Cleveland has hired Anthony Fabiano as a scouting assistant, the team announced in a release alongside a bunch of other names. Fabiano is a 2016 UDFA from Harvard, who spent the past handful of years bouncing around the bottom of various teams’ rosters as an offensive lineman.

He started a game for the Browns as a rookie in 2016, and then started another for the Colts in 2017. All told, he spent at least a bit of time with nine different teams. He was signed by the Browns back in January right as their season was about to end, and didn’t appear in a game. Given his Ivy League education, it’s not too surprising he had an easy time transitioning to the front office.

Here’s more from around the AFC:

  • It was initially reported that Eric Fisher‘s one-year deal with the Colts would pay him $9.4MM in 2021, but it turns out it’s a bit less than that. Fisher’s 2021 compensation will actually be $8.38MM, veteran NFL reporter Aaron Wilson tweets. It’s only $6MM guaranteed. It includes a $4MM signing bonus, a $2MM guaranteed salary, and then $2.38MM in per game active roster bonuses. Wilson also notes that it’s technically a two-year pact with 2022 automatically voiding for cap purposes.
  • Fisher isn’t the only AFC offensive lineman we have new contract details on. Cameron Fleming signed with the Broncos last month as further right tackle insurance after the Ja’Wuan James season-ending injury, and it was initially just reported as a one-year deal worth “up to” $3.67MM. Turns out it’s a one-year deal with a base value of only $1.67MM, with $1MM in guarantees, John Clayton of DenverFan.com writes. That would seem to indicate Fleming has $2MM in incentives available for this season. The Broncos have also signed Bobby Massie, so they have some options opposite Garett Bolles.

Colts To Consider Long-Term Deal For Eric Fisher

Earlier this week, the Colts inked Eric Fisher to a one-year, $9.4MM deal. But, if all goes well, they hope to keep him for the long haul (Twitter link via Mike Chappell of CBS4). 

Of course, that all hinges on Fisher’s health moving forward. The 30-year-old was injury-free from 2014-18, but core muscle surgery derailed him in 2019. He returned to aid the Chiefs on their way to their Super Bowl victory, then wound up back on IR late last year with an Achilles tear. The Colts, knowing the risk, opted to sign Fisher to a one-year deal, but that could work to Fisher’s benefit if he turns in a 16-game slate.

As soon as I got the call I was being cut, it was an automatic reset in my brain of I’m nowhere near being done, I feel like I got a lot of years left in me,” the two-time Pro Bowler said this week. “I was actually thinking about that this morning driving back from rehab. It’s going to be an awesome reset for myself and a fresh slate, keep working and finish the second half of my career off on a good start. I’ve been thinking about that and excited to kind of have that reset.”

For what it’s worth, Fisher’s contract technically has a voidable year in 2022, according to Zak Keefer of The Athletic. The extra year puts some of the obligation on next year’s books, which gives the Colts extra incentive to extend the pact.

Eric Fisher May Not Play Until October

The Colts just gave Eric Fisher $9.4MM for the 2021 season, but don’t count on him being ready to play right away. There’s a chance Fisher isn’t ready to play until early October, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network tweets.

That would mean Fisher could easily miss the first month-plus of the season. Rapoport writes that the Colts “won’t push” Fisher in his rehab, despite the fact they’ve only got him on a short-term deal. The Colts signed Sam Tevi this offseason, who will presumably open the year as the starter protecting Carson Wentz‘s blindside. That’s not very good news for Wentz.

Tevi was a starter for the Chargers the past three seasons, but the 2017 sixth-round pick never played very well. There’s a reason Indy was able to sign him for only $2.5MM back in March. Regardless the team surprised many by not drafting a tackle, so it appears they’re comfortable with Tevi.

Fisher, of course, tore his Achilles in January. The first overall pick of the 2013 draft made the Pro Bowl for his work during the regular season, but has now suffered serious injuries in back to back years. Either way, he’s about the best possible Anthony Castonzo replacement Colts fans could’ve hoped for at this time of year.