By Michael Mirer/Enterprise staff writer

Published Jul 30, 2006

No one gets excited about training camp.

So it’s not exactly eagerness that Jason Fisk is feeling as he prepares for his 12th NFL season. But after an unhappy 2005, one in which he was stuck playing out of position for a struggling team, the impending season should feel like a breath of fresh air and a chance to have a new start.

“It’s a necessary evil before you get to the fun part,” said Fisk, 33. “We’ve got a chance to be a pretty good team.”

The St. Louis Rams will be the Davis High graduate’s fifth NFL team since he broke into the league with the Vikings in 1996 out of Stanford. He signed with the Rams in June after being granted his release from the Cleveland Browns in April.

Fisk said he had considered retirement after leaving the Browns.

In Cleveland, Fisk lost his starting job as a new coaching staff overhauled the team’s defensive alignment, switching from four defensive linemen and three linebackers (4-3) on most plays to the opposite alignment (3-4). In the 4-3, defensive players are asked to attack the backfield.

In the 3-4, they are generally asked to occupy blockers so the linebackers behind them can make the majority of the tackles. Fisk, who at 6-foot-3 and 300 pounds is considered undersized for an NFL defensive tackle, was asked to play nose tackle for the Browns, a position that usually requires an especially enormous player.

As point of reference, Fisk’s replacement in Cleveland is former Raider Ted Washington, who weighs 365 pounds.

The Rams offered him the chance to play in a system similar to the one employed by Tennessee, with whom Fisk went to the Super Bowl in 2000. St. Louis’ new coaching staff also wanted him to play as part of a rotation at defensive tackle, taking about 25 snaps per game.

“That’s a good amount for me,” Fisk said. “Any more than that and my age starts to show.”

Before the Rams reported for training camp Thursday, Fisk had been around his new teammates once this year, at St. Louis’ mandatory minicamp last month. But he likes the atmosphere so far.

“You never know how you’re going to fit in coming into a locker room,” Fisk said. “I had some experience when I went back for minicamp. It’s a good group of people, which will make it an easier transition.

“Everyone’s on their toes a little bit,” he said. “This is actually the third time I’ve come in with a new coaching staff. People watch themselves pretty closely because they don’t really know what to expect.”

He’s spent his offseason in Davis with his family, working out at Peak Performance Gym and doing his running in the Greenbelt.

“I’ve done my own program, doing the things that work for me,” Fisk said. “Mostly I’ve been picking and choosing from the programs I’ve done in the past. I know what works for me and what I don’t need to do.”

He’ll back in Northern California at least twice more before the end of the year. The meet NFC West foe San Francisco on Sept. 17 and then travel back to the Bay Area to meet the Raiders on Dec. 17.