Backup DE makes the most of his limited game time

Friday, October 24, 2003

ST. LOUIS -- It took Bryce Fisher only 13 plays to make a huge impression on the Rams' coaching staff.

That's all the playing time the defensive end got in backup duty behind Grant Wistrom in last week's 34-24 victory over the Green Bay Packers. He made the most of it with two tackles for a loss, a forced fumble and two quarterback pressures.

The day after the game, the Rams chose Fisher as defensive player of the week.

"To be that productive is pretty remarkable," coach Mike Martz said. "The defensive staff wanted to reward him for that."

Fisher also has been a force on special teams for the Rams (4-2), who play Sunday at Pittsburgh. The contribution has been a bit of a surprise after last season, when Fisher appeared in only four games.

In 2002, he quickly fell out of favor after a busted assignment against the Bucs, failing to dress in the next five games.

"This year I've really concentrated on making sure I dress every week," Fisher said. "There's not much rope for missing assignments anyway, but when you're not making big plays you can't afford to make big mistakes -- and I did."

Fisher also adheres to defensive line coach Bill Kollar's edict that players always hustle.

"I just don't want Coach Kollar to say I loafed on a play," Fisher said. "I figure if I just play as hard as I can, good things will happen."

Fisher started two games for the Bills in 2001. He came to training camp this year as a fringe candidate just to make the team, but gave himself a chance with 100 percent participation in the offseason workout program.

"I mean, I was a guy who was on the bubble coming in, so I didn't have any choice," Fisher said.

Fellow defensive lineman Tyoka Jackson, a team co-captain, encouraged Fisher to stay at it.

"Any day in the weight room is good," Fisher said. "Like Tyoka says, everything you do in the weight room you're going to get that back plus interest."

The weight work made him stronger, even though it didn't help his smallish size (265 pounds) or his speed. Fisher said his 40-yard dash time is a slowish 5 seconds.

"I'm probably the slowest guy on our defensive line," Fisher said. "But I do pretty well at 10 yards, change of direction-type stuff.

"I'm never going to be anybody's burner, so I trick them. Everybody else is out there tired, and I'm not."

Fisher got his first sack of the season two weeks ago against the Falcons. He also contributes on the kickoff coverage team as a wedge-buster after persuading special teams coach Bobby April. He's tied for the team lead with 10 total tackles, seven of them solo stops.

"I just begged him," Fisher said. "I was just hoping against hope. Give me a chance."

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