Photo: Denny Medley USA Today Sports
St. Joseph, MO - Much was made of the Chiefs flirtation to trade their franchise left tackle, Branden Albert, around the NFL Draft. But that never materialized. Instead they have a high priced, premium player who appears to have shaken off those trade talks and is looking forward to helping KC’s line right now.
When the Kansas City Chiefs drafted Left Tackle, Eric Fisher, many felt that the man the Chiefs franchised, Branden Albert, would move to the right side of the line. But Head Coach, Andy Reid, made it clear off the bat that he had no intention of moving Albert.
Thus as training camp opens Albert is on the left side and freshly signed first round pick Mr. Fisher is manning the right side. Together they make up one of the beefiest offensive tackle tandems within the division.
But the centerpiece of this line still is Albert.
As the man paid handsomely to protect the back side of Quarterback, Alex Smith, his primary job is to protect and serve. That means whatever it takes to keep some of the games premier pass rushers away from his quarterback, Albert’s charge is to get that done on every snap.
Still at the onset of camp one had to wonder what his attitude might be considering he and the Chiefs were unable to secure a long term contract before last Monday’s deadline for franchise players.
From all accounts, that attitude appears to be in pretty good shape.
“It’s been great. I’ve been pleased with his effort,” Chiefs Offensive Coordinator, Doug Pederson, noted after Saturday mornings practice.
”He came in yesterday and started with that run test and knocked that thing out. His attitude is very good. I’ve been very pleased with it.”
That tells me that Albert has indeed put his past behind him. It also tells me if he wants to get paid as an elite left tackle in 2014, he plans on maintaining his focus this season on the business at hand.
“At that time you realize what’s important. You have to let the people who are with you handle that. You worry about your football stuff and being with your teammates,” Albert said of the contract talks.
”I was worried on the new offense and doing things now. If I don’t play well, and I don’t have my team, that’s where my conscience will be and I don’t want that on me. That’s why I was anxious to come out, and glad I came back. I was a little rusty at first, and I didn’t read into the offense and the little details. Now, I’m learning things, and I can move on from that.”
That sounds like a player who understands that the NFL is a business. But now it’s time for Albert to worry about his performance on the field. For now, the pot of gold can wait.
Still there are some that doubt Albert’s abilities to be a true shutdown left tackle.
His career to date in Kansas City has been solid. But he’s certainly not played at an All Pro level either. Now some of that is his fault, other parts of it surround a constant back issue a year ago and his inability to manage his weight properly through the first five years hasn’t been consistent enough.
So that means this veteran has to find the right balance of mobility and girth. If not, entering his sixth year in the NFL, you’d have to think father time may catch up to him sooner rather than later. That aside, Albert has to be able to assume the position of leader for this football team.
”I used to go to Brian (Waters) and all the older guys and now I feel like guys are looking to me like I’m the old grumpy guy, so I understand that aspect of being an older guy. You have a lot of responsibility because you have everybody looking at you and you have to represent that as a player this is how it’s supposed to be done if you want to win. People are looking at you to see how things are supposed to be done,” Albert said on Saturday.
Time will tell if Albert will grow into that role but thus far the early returns indicate that the past is the past and all he’s focused on now is the future.
Even if it’s one year at a time.
Chiefs Quote of the Day
“I try to pick him off every time he throws a pass. He’s trying to remain perfect; no one has a pick off of him yet.” – Cornerback, Brandon Flowers, on trying to pick off passes from Quarterback, Alex Smith, in practice.
WARPAINT ILLUSTRATED MESSAGE BOARDS:
Can Branden Albert overcome contract statlemate?
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