The first player to opt out of the NFL season due to the coronavirus pandemic this was season was Chiefs guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, though the Super Bowl champions figured they could absorb that blow relatively easily.

After all, they had used a third-round draft pick on TCU’s Lucas Niang to provide depth in just such a circumstance.

Along with a knee injury to versatile Martinas Rankin that has hung around into the season, the Chiefs suddenly found themselves with unexpected holes along the offensive line. And while the big guys up front tend to be an afterthought to most fans — and rarely make for sexy copy for reporters — the reality is the five guys who are tasked with creating creases in the running game and protecting Patrick Mahomes have one of the most crucial and difficult jobs on the team.

“That’s just the life on the offensive line,” said Eric Fisher, who has developed from a near-bust as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 draft into one of the premier left tackles in the game. “What we do in the trenches isn’t easy.”

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