CINCINNATI (WKRC) - Bengals offensive lineman Jake Fisher is going to have roughly 100 family members in attendance in Detroit on Thursday when he attempts to do something he says is analogous to driving on one side of the road in Europe one day and on the other side of the road in the United States the next.
Fisher, the team's second-round pick in the 2015 draft out of the University of Oregon, started at left tackle in last Friday's preseason opener against Minnesota, and will start at right tackle against the Lions in place of injured Cedric Ogbuehi.
The bottom line is it may not sound that hard, but Fisher, and even offensive line coach Paul Alexander say it is.
"You develop muscle in your legs and in your technique and in your body that it’s kind of like boxing (as) a southpaw and then not," said Fisher. "For us (as linemen), it’s developing those muscles. Unfortunately this week I only have one day to do it. (Monday) 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. 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."
Fisher, who grew up in Traverse City Mich., which is about three hours from Detroit, has been a jack-of-all-trades in his brief career. In addition to playing both tackle spots, he also played both guard spots and even tight end and fullback in certain situations last season, and had a 31-yard reception in the second game of the season against the San Diego Chargers. He wound up playing in 14 games with one start, and missed two games (Nos. 13 and 14 of the season) due to a concussion.
"It’s very hard," said Alexander. "I’ve never had a guy deal with that as a rookie – he played four spots and fullback and tight end – it was crazy, and he can do it."
Fisher had been taking the majority of reps in training camp at left tackle, especially with starter Andrew Whitworth missing almost 10 days, including the preseason opener, due to an undisclosed injury.
Alexander gave Fisher a solid review for his performance in camp and against against the Vikings.
"I think he’s had an outstanding training camp in the practices." said Alexander. "I thought in the game he made a couple of errors and most of them he immediately knew what to do so I thought it was a good game for him."
One of those mistakes came when Alexander said Fisher simply didn't get his head in front of a defender, but that wasn't due to lack of preparation.
"He takes the best notes of anyone in the (offensive line meeting) room," said Alexander. "He has notebooks full of notes. He drives me a little crazy - sometimes he takes too many notes. 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, 'Burn the notebooks and take out one 3 x 5 card and write: HEAD IN FRONT.' ”
Fisher laughed when he was told what Alexander said about his note taking, and admitted he didn't always do such a good job of that, especially when it came to school.
"Growing up I wasn’t really studious," said Fisher, who said he was a Bengals fan as a kid in part because the Lions weren't very good then, but also because he liked Bengals wide receiver Chad Johnson. "I didn’t really care about school - kind of just wanted to go home and hang out with my friends. I think there’s point you kind of grow up and mature and understand your learning techniques. You become more conscious of the person you are, and the things you have to do to improve your success. Writing things down I can revert back to it. I might not pick it up in the meeting, but I got notes from 2009 playing football in high school to now. You just are able to flash back and things you worked on then you work on now."
Then there is taking what he learned in the classroom and making sure it transfers to the field, but mostly it's how his muscle memory responds to the position switch.
"If you give me the right amount of time it doesn’t make a difference," said Fisher. "Short-term, whatever I am working the most on is where I feel more comfortable at. Right now it’s at left (tackle) and this week it’s at right, so iI just got to take these next two days and get it done."
If Ogbuehi returns by the start of the regular season as expected then Fisher will return to his super utility role so he said flopping tackle positions now is a positive.
"I guess it’s better than doing it during the season," said Fisher. "We are at a point right now where we have a lot of depth and guys that are able to play both sides, and 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."
Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis said it's good for Fisher to get a chance to play multiple positions this preseason.
"It’s great for him to have the opportunity to play both sides and continue his development," said Lewis. "He got a chance to play some for us last season and was really banged up a little bit this offseason. Literally his first football has been since we got here to training camp."
About the only the thing Fisher isn't prepared to do is playing center.
"Whenever I’m looking for him to play center he disappears," said Alexander.
Fisher said there's a good reason for that, too.
"6-6, 295 going against (the likes of former All-Pro nose tackle) Haloti Ngata snapping the ball?," he answered with a rhetorical question when asked why he hasn't tried to play center. "I think I’m going to have stay at tackle. Sounds about right for me."