Will Shields, a former All-Pro guard for the Chiefs and a member of the team’s Hall of Fame, believes the club’s first-round draft pick, Eric Fisher, can make the transition from left tackle to right tackle.
Fisher, a left tackle at Central Michigan, may have to move to the right side if incumbent Branden Albert remains with the club. Albert, who has signed a one-year contract, has not reported to the Chiefs’ off-season program, wants a long-term deal and does not want to shift to the right side or play guard.
“Some people make it more complicated than it can be,” said Shields, a right guard during his 14-year career with the Chiefs who occasionally had to spell players at other positions, including left tackle.
“It just depends on how good you are as an athlete. How are you going to work at it to make yourself work on both sides. In high school, I played left. Then, all through college, I played right. It depends on your mental makeup of ‘Hey, can I switch sides ’ What are you going to do win a job, that’s what it comes down to.”
Shields can relate to the pressure Fisher will face. When Shields was a rookie in 1993, he was inserted in the starting lineup after a teammate’s injury in the season opener and became a starter the next week protecting Joe Montana. While new Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith is not in Montana’s class, the Chiefs have a lot invested in Smith with no experienced quarterback behind him.
“That’s where you have to figure out which one of these guys is the best to protect Alex’s back side and you go with that guy (at left tackle), and the other guy either sits on the bench or you put him on the other side, and say, ‘Hey, you have to buck up and earn that other job.”
Shields, a 12-time Pro Bowler, a member of the College Football Hall of Fame and two-time finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, operates 68 Inside Sports, a fitness facility in Lenexa. His interest now is training young athletes in the Kansas City area, and on Thursday at a college sports athletic training convention, displayed and demonstrated Dynavision, a technology that is used in helping athletes develop better vision, improve hand-eye-coordination and aiding in recovery from concussions.
“We can do base lines, and we can do post-concussion testing,” Shields said of the Dynavision, which is a board studded with blinking lights that requires athletes to slap each light as it blinks. “We can help with peripheral vision. When (athletes) start getting stress, we start focusing in on small spots. We’re trying to teach people to relax when they’re under stress, they can see everything. We talk about people having court vision they’re able to see a lot more. We can actually train that to help with their vision.
“Baseball is one of our key sports we’re training with it hand-eye-coordination, to be able to track the ball that’s what this machine can help you do.”
Dynavision is used by some NFL and college teams and was used by players who prepared for the NFL Scouting Combine, but it’s important for Shields that those at the youth level train safely and responsibility.
“I want kids to enjoy being a kid,” said Shields, whose household has three athletes playing college basketball. “To be able to play the game, but also be safe while they do it, and that’s the most important part, but also to make sure they enjoy the sport.”