Fisher, King look to pounce on chance to start
By Bill Coats
Of the Post-Dispatch07/29/2004
MACOMB, Ill. - They line up on different sides of the ball, but they pursue the same goal: a starting job with the Rams.
Bryce Fisher, a fourth-year NFL veteran, is No. 1 on the depth chart at the right defensive end spot vacated by Grant Wistrom when he went to Seattle as a free agent. Andy King, a third-year pro, is the first-team left guard on the offensive line as Dave Wohlabaugh recovers from hip surgery.
Both realize that their spots are tenuous. "That's why they use pencils" when filling out early depth charts, King said, smiling. But both also know that they're staring at the chance of a lifetime.
"This is definitely an opportunity for me," said the 6-foot-3, 268-pound Fisher, who started twice for Buffalo in 2002 and once for the Rams last season. "They're giving me a chance, and I've got to take advantage of it. I'm really trying to work hard and work myself into that starting rotation for Sept. 12."
For that to happen, Fisher will have to fight off challenges from veterans Sean Moran and Erik Flowers and rookie Anthony Hargrove.
"We'd be happy lining up and playing (any of them); I can safely say that," coach Mike Martz said.
For now, though, Fisher is the man to beat. "I've got that big target on me," he said. "I've got to go out there and prove that I can be our starting right end."
King's situation is a bit different. While Wohlabaugh, who started every game last season at center, mends, Andy McCollum has slid over to center from left guard. Wohlabaugh and McCollum figure to reclaim their usual spots eventually, but in the meantime the 6-4, 310-pound King gets a shot at proving he's an NFL-caliber lineman.
"Every year, Coach tells us that on this team, if you don't think of yourself as a starter, then you don't belong here," King said. "So I don't think that my mind-set has changed. But this is a huge opportunity."
Martz indicated that he's already sold on King, a Lincoln, Ill., product who played at Illinois State.
"I feel good about his ability to go in there and handle all this," Martz said. "He's what we're looking for. He's a big, physical guy, he's a tough guy, smart and wants to be as good as he can be. What more can you want?"
Some roster shuffling took place in the days leading up to the start of camp, with six players released and five signed.
Cut were safety Shedrick Copeland, an undrafted rookie from Florida A&M; center Andy Eby, who was on the active roster for the last six games of the 2002 season and spent last year on injured reserve; wide receiver Ryan McGuffey, an undrafted rookie from Wyoming; linebacker Fred Pagac, an undrafted rookie from Ohio State; offensive tackle Elliot Silvers, who has had brief stints with the Texans and Giants; and safety Kailan Williams, an undrafted rookie from Southeast Missouri State.
The additions are defensive end Kevin Aldridge, who spent part of the 2002 and '03 seasons with the Titans; cornerback Robert Cromartie, who was in Arizona's camp last year with Larry Marmie, the Rams' new defensive coordinator; defensive tackle Richard Harris, who was in the Titans' camp last year; defensive tackle Justin Montgomery, an undrafted rookie from Kansas State; and kicker Dillon Pieffer, an undrafted rookie from Nevada-Las Vegas. Pieffer replaces Mark Jensen, who was unimpressive in NFL Europe and in subsequent workout sessions at Rams Park.
Rams Camp at a Glance: July 29
In the stands: About 100 fans attended both the morning and afternoon workouts under sunny skies Wednesday.
Injured: C Dave Wohlabaugh (hip).
Absent: Orlando Pace (contract).
Today's schedule: Practices are scheduled for 8:10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Times are subject to change. For up-to-date practice information, call 1-866-726-7226. Practices are free and open to the public.
Bits and pieces:
The team will work out in full pads for the first time this morning.
Only a morning practice is planned for Friday.
General manager and fashion maven Charley Armey earned "hat of the day" honors with a wide-brimmed, khaki-and-black floppy number that had a couple of fishing lures hooked onto the side.
Camp's first practice was barely minutes old when special teams coach Mike Stock delivered a Dick Cheney-like rebuke to rookie safety Jason Shivers.
"I like the siesta. That's a great concept, and I think we should really start to institute that in America."
- Safety Adam Archuleta, extolling the prospect of midday naps because of more time between the two-a-day sessions.
"I have it in a bank, sitting on it. Hopefully it'll make some money while I'm here."
- First-round draft choice and budding economist Steven Jackson, on what he did with his $4 million signing bonus.
- Bill Coats