With three different starting lineups in the first four games, the Chiefs continue to seek answers on the offensive line. Zach Fulton is the latest attempt to shore up things.
Fulton opened at right guard in Sunday’s 36-21 loss at Cincinnati. It was his first start this season after starting all 16 games at that position as a rookie last season.
He learned Wednesday that he was getting the call.
“You prepare all week as if you’re going to start,” Fulton said. “You have to do it that way because you just never know what might happen.”
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Fulton started in place of Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, who has struggled to find consistency in his first three games.
“Sometimes you can take a step back to take a step forward,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said of Duvernay-Tardif. “He’s one of the toughest guys on our football team. He doesn’t have as much experience as the other guys and we like what Zach Fulton had been doing.”
As for Fulton, Reid was mostly positive.
“I thought Zach did some good things,” Reid said. “Again, I take into consideration that it was his first time going and playing a full game, so I keep that in mind. Can he continue to get better? Absolutely. Are there things he needs to keep working on? Yeah. Overall, he did some good things.”
Reid said he’ll “probably end up sticking with Zach right now,” so look for another starting assignment for Fulton when the Chicago Bears arrive at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday.
Fulton, like most of the offensive players, ultimately was troubled by last weekend’s outcome. On a day when the Chiefs amassed 461 total yards and 24 first downs, both season-best marks, the Chiefs never crossed the goal line. Every Chiefs point was scored by one person, kicker Cairo Santos, who booted a team-record seven field goals.
Some of those field goals occurred after the Bengals sacked Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith, ending a touchdown quest. Smith has been sacked 12 times in the last two weeks, and 19 times this season.
“We needed to capitalize when we were in the red zone,” Fulton said. “You can look at technique issues, communication issues, but there can’t be any of those. We have to be better.”
The Chiefs crossed midfield on seven of their 10 possessions against the Bengals. On five of them, the Chiefs later had a negative play or penalty and forced a long-yardage situation.
Two came on sacks. Twice the Chiefs were penalized, and on another De’Anthony Thomas was thrown for an 8-yard loss.
The last time Fulton saw extensive playing time he was at another position. He spent the first half of the final preseason game playing center. He earned solid reviews for that performance and is listed as the Chiefs’ backup to Mitch Morse.
Fulton’s playing time Sunday meant that Jeff Allen spent another game on the bench. Allen suffered a knee injury in the preseason, which opened the door for Duveray-Tardif while Fulton was getting acclimated to center. Fulton spent the previous three weeks taking practice reps at guard and center.
Allen was inactive for the first two games but not for the last two. Two days before the Bengals game, Reid said Allen was close to 100 percent.
Guard would appear to be Allen’s position, but Fulton got the call on Sunday, and it appears he’ll be there for at least another week.