Fisher Feeling Fit
Monday, June 12, 2006

By Nick Wagoner
Senior Writer

It would have been easy for Travis Fisher to take a look at what the Rams did to bolster their secondary in the offseason and pout about it.

Once considered a rising star at cornerback, Fisher has struggled to stay healthy in each of the past two seasons and those injuries have limited him even when he has been on the field.

Instead of publicly whining about the team’s decision to use a first-round pick on cornerback Tye Hill and sign free agent Fakhir Brown, Fisher decided to use it as motivation to get back to the player that once showed Pro Bowl type promise in this, the final year of his contract.

“When they drafted somebody in the first round, personally it was kind of like a slap in the face if I’m trying to get a new deal, but I can’t be pouting about it,” Fisher said. “I have to go out on the field and play. I just wanted to make sure that when I step on this field, I’m going to be the best cornerback out there.”

During the team’s minicamps and organized team activities, it seems Fisher has not only been the best cornerback on the field, but one of the emerging leaders of the new defense.

For most of the past weekend’s final minicamp, Fisher worked with the first team at corner alongside Brown. In a group of so many players, Fisher stood out on a number of occasions.

During Saturday’s morning practice, while working on red zone plays, Fisher broke on a slant over the middle to receiver Kevin Curtis, dived in front and stabbed it for an acrobatic interception that brought applause from teammates and coaches alike.

It was a small play in a practice, but it’s significant enough to note that Fisher is making plays that he made when he was fully healthy and productive.

“He’s been playing great,” coach Scott Linehan said. “I said the first minicamp the guy I came away feeling the best about was how competitive Travis was in one on one and the whole thing. He had the injury and we didn’t know how he’d be able to perform.”

For his part, Fisher wasn’t even sure what to expect from the new coaching staff upon their arrival. He played in just eight games last year, finishing with 35 tackles, no interceptions and a pair of forced fumbles as he dealt with a groin injury. In 2004, he played in 10 games after dealing with a jaw injury and a broken forearm.

Health has become the top priority for Fisher. It’s no coincidence that making his health a priority has had a direct correlation to his rejuvenated performances in the team’s offseason program.

Fisher was once thought to be one of the fastest Rams, known for his excellent closing speed in coverage. But, Fisher played the past couple of seasons a little over 200 pounds and believes that the extra weight might have contributed to his groin injury last year.

With that in mind, Fisher took to a strict diet that helped him lost about 12 pounds, down to his current weight of about 189 pounds, the same weight he came into the league at. Unsure of what the new staff wanted from him, Fisher took it upon himself to get in a shape where he could be a standout in offseason workouts.

“When I first met with the coaches, it was hard for me to figure out what they were thinking,” Fisher said. “At the same time, it seemed like they had a lot of plans. I stopped worrying about those types of things and just concentrated on my diet and come out here every day to try to do my best.”

Fisher eliminated fried foods from his diet and stopped eating around 7 p.m. every day.

“It was simple once I actually started it,” Fisher said. “I cheat a little bit at times. I stay away from that McDonald’s, just concentrate on trying to eat fish and stuff like that.”

The lost weight has helped Fisher regain his burst and quickness, something that has been apparent to the coaching staff in minicamps. He says he feels quicker and is back to being perhaps the fastest player on the team.

Aside from the fact that Fisher is entering his contract year, he knows that there will be plenty of competition at cornerback for jobs. The additions of Hill and Brown along with the return of Jerametrius Butler, DeJuan Groce and the emerging Ronald Bartell should make cornerback perhaps the most heated competition heading into training camp and the preseason.

“I didn’t feel like I had anything to prove,” Fisher said. “I think just getting the opportunity to come back out here and show what I have to these new coaches (has me going). That’s all I wanted to do. Obviously how things went with the draft and other things, I can’t control those things. I can control when I step on the field and show these coaches what I have.”

So far, they like what they see.

“That’s what you are looking for, guys that are consistent and when they have an opportunity, pull the trigger,” Linehan said. “He has been great about being consistent, going about his business and just working hard and that’s what we are looking for.”