R.B. FALLSTROM

Associated Press


ST. LOUIS - The first hit was the worst part of Travis Fisher's comeback. After being out since the preseason with a broken right forearm, the St. Louis Rams' cornerback thought he had broken it again.

"It was aching real bad," Fisher said Wednesday. "You can't help but notice it when it's hurting."

It ended up being just a scare for the third-year player, who made it through the entire game against the Dolphins two weeks ago. That game ended up helping him shake off some rust and he'll be trying to shake off more on Sunday against the Patriots.

"I think anytime you take a blow and break a bone, it's a setback," Fisher said. "It's going to be hard. But I'm getting there."

Fisher, a second-round pick in 2002, was out more than two months after being injured Aug. 23 against the Chiefs in the next-to-last preseason game. So any struggles were understandable, especially considering that he only had a few practice days to prepare.

"I felt like I could go out there and make some plays," he said. "I made a couple and I missed a couple. Those are gone and I'm working hard in practice on the things I messed up on."

Coach Mike Martz said he probably rushed Fisher back to action, considering how long he'd been sidelined. He was anxious to get him on the field and solidify a secondary that's been banged-up much of the season.

Fisher started 29 games the last two seasons, and last year he tied for the team lead with four interceptions. But his arm, which still is held together with a plate and screws, is not yet 100 percent.

"I was remiss in not spelling him in that game in Miami," Martz said. "That's a coaching error on my part. He is absolutely, I think, a top-flight cornerback."

Fisher ran and lifted weights for three days with the rest of the team last week, and on Monday he looked like a different player to Martz.

"He had conditioned really well but still it's different than playing the game," Martz said. "He's there now, I believe."

Fisher said the most difficult part of coming back is executing the fundamentals that become rote over time. He's a former high school sprint champion in Florida, so reacting to the pace of the game has been less of a factor.

While Fisher was out, DeJuan Groce started four games at his right cornerback spot. Jerametrius Butler, the regular at left cornerback, started one game there when Aeneas Williams was moved to cornerback, and Kevin Garrett also started one game.

Now, the shuffling is over.

"I bring a lot to the game," Fisher said. "I go out and try to make something happen and I just love playing the game."

Notes:@ WR Dane Looker, also the holder on kicks, is likely out for this week with a high ankle sprain. Martz said backup QB Chris Chandler likely will fill that role. ... TE Cam Cleeland sprained his right ankle in practice Monday and will be held out of practice until Friday, but is expected to play. OT Grant Williams was held out on Monday with a burner but was back on the field Wednesday. ... Rookie LB Brandon Chillar, who left the Dolphins game with an injured right hamstring, returned to practice on Wednesday. Chillar started the last two games at middle linebacker but has lost that job to Trev Faulk.