New faces in new places. That was the story of the 2014 Kansas City Chiefs offensive line.
The only player to see considerable snaps in the same position from a year ago was center Rodney Hudson, who led the team with over 1,000 snaps for the second consecutive season.
"Rodney (Hudson) demonstrated his professionalism this season," Chiefs general manager John Dorsey said. "He's very solid in what he did and he's very consistent in what he does. He plays the center position very well."
The only other member of the Chiefs offensive line who had started in 2013 was former No. 1 overall pick and second-year player Eric Fisher, who made the move over to left tackle after playing on the right side as a rookie.
"I thought Fisher made big strides this year," Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. "Number one, he played every game and took down the left tackle position."
According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), Fisher's first two games of the season against the Tennessee Titans and Denver Broncos resulted in seven quarterback hits on Alex Smith. But in his final 14 games, Fisher allowed just four quarterback hits total.
"I think he grew exponentially as the year went on," Dorsey said of Fisher. "He'll need a whole year of strength and conditioning to get bigger and stronger, but I'm happy with where he's projected he should be."
Reid also said he was impressed with Fisher's development considering the uphill battle he had coming into the season.
"He did all that without having really any offseason," Reid said of Fisher, who had offseason shoulder surgery. "I think he's looking forward to an offseason where he's not rehabbing an injury. It will be important that he gets in and continues to increase his strength, which he'll do.
"Again, he's very talented physically, smart kid, willing to work. Those are all positives."
Besides Fisher and Hudson, it was injuries and suspensions that resulted in the shuffling and signing of new faces along the offensive line.
After a four-game suspension was announced for thought-to-be starting right tackle Donald Stephenson prior to the Chiefs' fourth preseason game against the Green Bay Packers, the Chiefs signed veteran Mike McGlynn, who stepped in at left guard while Jeff Allen moved from left guard to right tackle.
After a season-ending elbow injury to Allen in the season opener against the Titans, veteran Ryan Harris, who joined the Chiefs on the eve of training camp, stepped in as the starter at right tackle.
Zach Fulton, who was the first Chiefs rookie drafted in the sixth or seventh round to start a Week 1 game in almost three decades, stepped in at right guard.
Just like that, there were three new faces along the offensive line and not much continuity.
"What those guys were asked to do this year, I thought they did an admirable job," Dorsey said. "They fought, they battled their butts off and that's all you can ask for. It takes a while for that position to gel together as one. They started to but then sporadically things happen."
Without being able to predict suspensions and key injuries, Dorsey believes the offensive line, while battling and competing, was put together as best as possible.
"Realistically in the second year and with the resources we had, I think we did as admirable of a job as you possibly could go about and staying true," he said. "We'd all like to have five Pro Bowl players on the offensive line, but that's not going to happen."
Highlights from the 2014 Kansas City Chiefs' offensive line.
While sack numbers are often used to determine the success of an offensive line, Reid said that despite Alex Smith being sacked a career-high 45 times in 2014, those numbers don't necessarily all fall on the offensive line.
"I wouldn't necessarily focus on the sacks," Reid explained. "Those can be distributed around. I think you have to get in and look at each individual and that's what you do. Some of these things, like a sack, could go a few different directions."
Despite the pass-blocking numbers as a whole, which are tough to delineate where success and failure lies, the running game was blocked well enough for running back Jamaal Charles, who doesn't need much space, to pick up his franchise-record fifth season of at least 1,000 yards on the ground.
Moving forward into next year, the Chiefs coaching staff must first look back and evaluate the individual performances in 2014 before they make decisions regarding the personnel in 2015.
"We'll go back and we'll evaluate everything," Reid said. "That's what takes place in the offseason. We're going back and doing the scheme evaluation and from the personnel standpoint of continuing to bring in good personnel here to keep the competition level up.
"I think everybody is ready for that challenge there."
There are decisions to be made as three of the Chiefs starting offensive linemen from this past season are scheduled to be free agents in center Rodney Hudson, right tackle Ryan Harris and left guard Mike McGlynn. While Jeff Allen will hopefully return healthy by the time offseason workouts begin, the offensive line will definitely have a lot of eyes on it throughout the offseason.