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Sans Fisher, Chiefs back to work

By DAVE SKRETTA

Associated Press

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. -- The Kansas City Chiefs returned to practice on Sunday without right tackle Eric Fisher, the No. 1 overall pick who hurt his right shoulder in their preseason opener.

Fisher also hurt his left thumb in Friday night's game in New Orleans, briefly leaving the sideline to get it taped up. But coach Andy Reid said after the team returned to training camp on Sunday that Fisher missed practice because of a separated shoulder injury.

"It's a bruise in there," Reid said. "It really showed up late. He didn't complain about it during the game. He didn't complain about it after the game. It showed up yesterday."

Fisher started at right tackle against the Saints after the Chiefs made the former Central Michigan star the top pick in the draft over Texas A&M offensive tackle Luke Joeckel.

While it's clear that Fisher has uncanny athleticism for a man his size, the 6-foot-7, 306-pound rookie has struggled to get acclimated to life in the NFL. He's been beaten often by pass rushers Tamba Hali and Justin Houston in one-on-one drills, and more than once quarterback Alex Smith has had to scramble during 11-on-11 sessions of practice.

Reid has acknowledged that Fisher is going through some growing pains, just like any first-year player, and that his progress in the preseason will be crucial to the offense's success.

Now, it's not clear whether he'll play Friday night against San Francisco.

"He can't quite get the motion he needs, but again, it's not structural. It's a muscle bruise," Reid said. "We'll just get it settled down and see where it goes. It's day to day."

Donald Stephenson worked out in Fisher's place at right tackle as the Chiefs returned to work following a day off Saturday. But the swapped-out piece on the line hardly seemed to make a difference: Everybody on offense seemed to struggle throughout practice.

Right guard Jon Asamoah jumped for no apparent reason during the first full-squad scrimmage. Smith heard his coaches blowing their whistles more than once to signify a delay of game. Wide receiver Jon Baldwin, the former first-round pick who has struggled all of camp, had a ball go right through his fingers to the collective groan from another large crowd of fans.

"We need to do better than today," said tight end Tony Moeaki, who was left sprawled on the field when backup cornerback Jalil Brown broke up a pass intended for him late in practice.

"Every camp there's highs and lows," Moeaki said, "and we just need to push through those lows. We just need to keep getting better, that's all I can say."