Fisher flipping sides in wake of Ogbuehi injury

Jake Fisher’s Tour de Offense will continue Thursday night in Detroit when the second-year lineman will slide over to start at right tackle for Cedric Ogbuehi, who is battling a toe injury.

Since being drafted in the second round out of Oregon last year, Fisher has played and/or practiced at left tackle, left guard, right guard, right tackle, tight end and fullback.

“Whenever I’m looking for him to play center, he disappears,” Bengals offensive line coach Paul Alexander joked.

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Fisher said it would be nice to spend his formative months in the league taking reps at a single position, but he understands the role he’s been assigned.

“I think that’s what anybody would like to do,” he said. “But we are at a point right now where we have a lot of depth and guys that are able to play both sides. Our coaches are doing what the right thing is and flipping guys around and getting them prepared and getting them ready for the season so when the time comes later on we are ready to go.”

Fisher was one of the biggest Bengals draft surprises in recent years, not because of when he was drafted but because of whom he followed. The team had already used its first-round pick on another tackle in Ogbuehi, who was expected to miss most, and perhaps all, of his rookie season due to a torn ACL suffered in his final game at Texas A&M.

So while Ogbuehi rehabbed, Fisher plugged in here, there and everywhere beginning with training camp and continuing through the regular season when he appeared in 14 games with one start as a second tight end.

And while the difference between playing left tackle and right tackle might seem minimal to the casual fan, Fisher drew on a couple of analogies to illustrate the difficulty.

“It’s like punching someone with your left hand instead of your right hand,” he said. “You probably aren’t going to knock someone out with your left hand. It’s like anything. If you are driving a car, you are driving in America on the left side (of the car). In Europe in some spots, you’re driving on the right. It’s getting comfortable in a place in your mind where you are able to not think about the actual plays and think about technique.”

And it’s been Fisher’s mental flexibility, more so than his physical performance, that has impressed Alexander.

“It’s very hard,” Alexander said. “I’ve never had a guy deal with that as a rookie. He played four spots and fullback and tight end. Crazy, and he can do it. He takes the best notes of anyone in the room. He has notebooks full of notes.

“He drives me a little crazy sometimes, he takes too many notes,” Alexander added. “He messed up one play where all you have to do is put your head in front and he didn’t do that. I said frigging burn the notebooks and take out one 3x5 card and write, ‘Head in Front.’ “

While the repeated shuffling has been taxing mentally, the short notice accompanying this latest move will be a tougher task physically.

“You develop muscle in your legs and in your technique and in your body that it’s kind of like boxing a southpaw and not,” Fisher said. “For us it’s developing those muscles. Unfortunately this week I only have one day to do it. Yesterday was the first day, and I have to move on and continue to build and continue to grow as a player and just accept whatever comes your way.”

With Ogbuehi expected to miss two to three weeks, Fisher will get plenty more reps at right tackle ahead of the third preseason game in Jacksonville on Aug. 28 and the finale against Indianapolis on Sept. 1.

Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said he expects Ogbuehi to be ready for the regular-season opener Sept. 11 in New York against the Jets.

But in the meantime, Fisher will continue to work on his skills at right tackle in addition to developing a relationship with right guard Kevin Zeitler.

“Being comfortable playing with the person next to you is a huge part of it, so I want to make sure Zeit understands I know what I’m doing and he’s comfortable with me so he doesn’t have to worry about me,” Fisher said. “He can worry about what he does. So for me that’s the biggest part making sure my guys trust me, my coaches trust me and continue to play.”

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