The Chiefs have shuffled the deck along the offensive line this offseason, thanks to the additions of guards Ben Grubbs and Paul Fanaika and the departure of center Rodney Hudson.
But while finding a replacement for Hudson (whether it’s third-year backup Eric Kush or someone else) will remain a priority between now and the regular-season opener, so is resolving the situation at right tackle.
Chiefs coach Andy Reid said at the NFL’s annual meetings this week that with where the roster currently stands — a handful of additions via free agency or the draft certainly remain in play, by the way — fourth-year vets Donald Stephenson and Jeff Allen will have an opportunity to compete for the position.
Stephenson, a third-round pick in 2012, was the projected starter at the position in 2014 before he was suspended for the first four games for violating the league’s policy against performance-enhancing drugs.
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Veteran journeyman Ryan Harris, who was signed right before training camp, took the job and never relinquished it, even when Stephenson — who also started seven games in 2012 — returned from his suspension.
When asked what Stephenson has to do to earn his job back, general manager John Dorsey essentially challenged Stephenson to take it.
“There’s some things that occurred last year, but it’s a clean slate,” Dorsey said. “So what he has to do is set the little things into motion that professionals do in terms of obtaining that starting position.
“So what you do is take little steps, ultimately building toward bigger goals that you set for yourself. And I think you go in and challenge yourself on a daily basis. You go in and do the little things it takes to be truly professional — do not take this game for granted.”
Dorsey said he wants Stephenson, who boasts good size (6 feet 6, 312 pounds) and athleticism, to live up to his immense potential. Now would be a good time to do it, too, as the 26-year-old is entering the final year of his rookie contract.
“As I look at it, God has given you magnificent physical skills,” Dorsey said of Stephenson. “Now let’s blend everything together. He’s fully committed, he’s all in, which I love. Now let’s go and do it.
“Execute your plan. Don’t look in the past. Live in the present, build for the future. That’s a good motto for him to live by.”