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The road to improvement for Jake Fisher in Year 3

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The Bengals’ third year tackle has experienced a slow, steady development so far in the NFL. He will need to take the next step in 2017 to prove he deserves the Bengals’ patience.

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals-Training Camp Kareem Elgazzar/The Cincinnati Enquirer-USA TODAY NETWORK

2016 was a rough year for the Cincinnati Bengals’ offensive line, and a lot of it had to do with turmoil at the right tackle position. The Bengals were in the unfortunate position of trying to replace long-time right tackle Andre Smith with two inexperienced young tackles in Cedric Ogbuehi and eventually Jake Fisher. Although Ogbuehi is moving to the other side of the line in 2017, Fisher is staying put at right tackle and must perform better in his third year to convince the Bengals to continue pursuing his long-term development. He seems to have a plan in place for the things he wants to improve upon.

Among those things is adding muscle weight. And he recently told Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com about his diet and working on himself this offseason.

“Multi positions. Not being consistent. Playing tight end, KOR (kick-off return). All kinds of different things,” Fisher said of why he put in work to up his weight this offseason. “Now that I’m at a spot where I earned a spot on the line … I can really keep my weight up and really focus on what specific things I’m doing.”

Fisher has been dieting and changed his eating habits with foods like bison, avocado (for electrolytes), steak, potatoes, carrots and corn heavily incorporated in his diet. Additionally, he’s cut out medications, which he believes has helped strengthen his mind and body, as well as his immune system.

“It’s hard, but it’s what I want to do. To be great,” Fisher said. “It’s not what I’m eating. It’s when I’m eating, how I’m eating. Portions. Timing. Morning and night. It’s really just a matter of realizing that everyone’s body is different. It’s not if it’s more or less, but its quality. I’m not sacrificing quality to eat more quantity. I’m eating more often. Never allowing myself to be hungry. Eat more often. Always have your body pumping Insulin.”

Fisher has had some nice training camp performances so far and he’s hoping to improve greatly in his first season as a full-time starter. Hopefully, all the changes Fisher is making translate to success during the season, because the Bengals desperately need it.

“I feel way better. More healthy. Mentally and physically,” Fisher said. “Guys get soaked up a lot of times in what a coach wants them to be at weight-wise that they sacrifice. I just didn’t sacrifice ... Everyone has their own way of doing things. Fine tuning. It takes effort. In my third year, I have it down pretty well."

With the Bengals allowing a whopping 41 sacks in 2016 (tied for seventh worst in the NFL), there is no question the team needs someone—or multiple people—to step up on the offensive line. Granted, the right tackle position, as an area of concern, is joined by left tackle and right guard in 2017 due to losing top tier offensive linemen Andrew Whitworth and Kevin Zeitler in the offseason. But, a solid performance from Fisher would go a long way toward ensuring the problems the Bengals’ offensive line saw in 2016 stay in the past.

Ultimately, Fisher can make all the personal changes in the world. But, what matters most is how he develops as an offensive tackle. In 2016, he regularly looked lost, overpowered, and outmatched. He has the athleticism, vision, and mental fortitude to shine at right tackle, but none of that will matter if he is being caught off guard and bowled over on a regular basis. That said, if Fisher can prove the work he did this offseason—both on and off-the-field—are what was needed to improve, the Bengals will have solved one of the team’s biggest problems from last season.