Originally posted on Fox Sports Kansas City
By SEAN KEELER  |  Last updated 9/26/13
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- It could be worse. A lot worse. Branden Albert could be a Miami Dolphin right now, the Beast of South Beach. Eric Fisher could be learning the NFL ropes at left tackle while charged with guarding Alex Smith's blind side. "We don't think about that," center Rodney Hudson says. "It was really important for him to come back," tackle Donald Stephenson says. "Helps us out a lot." It's a fact: The relationship between Albert and his employers at present, the Kansas City Chiefs, has seen better days. The big lug wants a long-term contract; the Chiefs are in wait-and-see mode; and ne'er the twain. Since being slapped with the franchise tag (and a 1-year tender for 2013) back in March, the 6-foot-5 New York native has been almost traded about seven different times, depending on your Twitter feed of choice. He went to the NFL Network in April to ask for a "definitive answer" from the new Chiefs front office, then stayed away from the first three weeks of organized team activities. And yet it's scary to think where this offensive line might be without Big No. 76 right about now, isn't it? "He's a veteran, so he holds a lot on his shoulders to make some calls up front," Stephenson continued. "And to be (in) that leadership role that we need, because we are a young group." The metric whiz-kids at FootballOutsiders.com concur. According to the site, the Chiefs lead the NFL in adjusted line yards off of left tackle (5.42 per carry), Albert's side of the pocket, as opposed to No. 16 in yards off of right tackle (3.55), where the rookie Fisher is holding down the fort, and No. 7 off of right end (5.44). More fun with numbers: the 28-year-old Albert went into the Chiefs' Week 3 contest at Philadelphia ranked ninth in the NFL in passing-blocking efficiency, according to ProFootballFocus.com, and the site credited him with surrendering just one, solitary sack last fall over 378 pass-blocking snaps. "Obviously, when you've got a guy who's played so many games, he's seen a lot of things," Hudson says. "It's always important to get help from a guy who's played a lot of games. "We're happy he's here. We're happy he's here." Chiefs fans are happy, too, but it's a measured sort of happy. While the club is off to its first 3-0 start since 2010, the offense, to date, hasn't exactly been pulling the sled. Injuries -- left guard Jeff Allen is likely to miss Sunday's matchup with the New York Giants because of groin issues, and Albert has been limited by a bad shoulder -- and inexperience have made for an uneven experience for Smith under center, despite the wins. "We are in this together," Albert told reporters last month. "It's not just me; we are all in this together. We have to work together to get this done, that's what we're working towards. And I believe we will." It's getting there. Slowly. FootballOutsiders ranks the Chiefs' line No. 5 in the NFL in terms of adjusted line yards (4.45 per carry), which is nifty; Less stellar is the No. 28 rank in terms of "power success," (or conversions on short yardage) at 20 percent, and the No. 26 slot in pass protection, with their adjusted sack rate of 9.0 percent a chunk above the NFL average of 7.1. Meanwhile, the first three regular-season games for Fisher, the No. 1 overall pick, have felt like the ultimate roller-coaster ride: Up, then down, then up again. Against the Eagles, the former Central Michigan star was charged with a sack allowed, a hit allowed, two hurries and two penalties. ProFootballFocus.com ranks him 59th among all tackles in terms of pass blocking and 63rd in run blocking. And yet he also helped to spring running back Jamal Charles for big gains on the ground in the fourth quarter during long, game-clinching drives late against Dallas and Philadelphia. "(Albert) stays after him," Stephenson says of the relationship between the franchise's two starting tackles. "He tells him to keep working, makes sure (they've) got together when they're in the film room. He pretty much gets the same treatment I got (as a rookie)." Albert has a stake in this, too, beyond the wins and losses. In a contract year, it behooves him to play the good solider, the company man, whether it leads to a longer deal here -- or somewhere else. "Wherever he goes, or if he stays here, he's going to make us or them better," Stephenson says. "I would always want to play with Brandon, he's a good guy. But you never know how this business works." You never do. And it's funny how the best trades, sometimes, are the ones that never quite pan out. You can follow Sean Keeler on Twitter @seankeeler or email him at seanmkeeler@gmail.com
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Jerry Richardson selling Carolina Panthers amid investigation

Roy Williams honored late Pat Summitt during game at Tennessee

Burfict responds to Smith-Schuster's TD celebration

Antonio Brown taken to hospital for further evaluation

Cam Newton offers support for Panthers owner

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Captain Munnerlyn calls benching ‘slap in the face’

Report: Jerry Richardson would ask to shave women’s legs

Twitter reacts to Thomas Davis' dirty hit on Davante Adams

Randall Cobb splits defenders with sick move on catch-and-run TD

Eli Manning's two TDs against Eagles vault Manning family to 1,000 TDs in regular season

Stephen Strasburg says he may skip future All-Star games due to injury concerns

Top takeaways from NFL Week 15

Sports & Politics Intersect: Mr. Jones goes to Washington

The 'It's the most wonderful bowl of the year' quiz

NHL Weekender: Bolts keep striking, Preds on the hunt

Chargers are the AFC team no one wants to play in January

Donald Trump's quotes vs. the sports world in 2017

Five MLB teams that should trade for Manny Machado

The 'It's always chilly in Indiana' quiz

NFL puts safety entirely on players, again

Eight NFL teams who simply need to start over

Most important player on every team in each bowl matchup

NFL Week 15 Predictions

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Yardbarker Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

Sports & Politics Intersect: Mr. Jones goes to Washington

NHL Weekender: Bolts keep striking, Preds on the hunt

The 'It's the most wonderful bowl of the year' quiz

Donald Trump's quotes vs. the sports world in 2017

Chargers are the AFC team no one wants to play in January

The 'It's always chilly in Indiana' quiz

NFL puts safety entirely on players, again

Most important player on every team in each bowl matchup

NFL Week 15 Predictions

NBA Referee Hotline Bling: Boogie, Z-Bo reach out and punch someone

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker