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  • Fisher, Lewis Impact Line

    Fisher, Lewis Impact Line
    Wednesday, September 15, 2004

    By Nick Wagoner
    Staff Writer

    While the Rams’ offensive line was busy dominating Arizona’s front four, St. Louis’ defensive line was taking care of business as well.

    The group helped hold the Cardinals to 260 yards and came up with big plays repeatedly to help St. Louis earn a 17-10 win Sunday at the Edward Jones Dome. The win got the Rams’ season off on the right foot, making them 1-0 for the first time since 2001.

    Most of the defensive questions entering training camp revolved around the losses the Rams suffered on their front line. Defensive end Grant Wistrom departed for a big-money contract in Seattle and tackle Brian Young headed for New Orleans, where he got “Big Easy” money.

    Instead of spending major dollars for replacements like their NFC brethren, the Rams stayed home and promoted the backups. A pair of defensive ends, who traveled similar paths to the team, improved in training camp and made the team. Joining them was an unheralded third-round choice who proved to be one of the camp’s shining stars.

    Bryce Fisher entered camp at the top of the depth chart in Wistrom’s former position, opposite sackmaster Leonard Little. Facing fierce competition from former first-rounder Erik Flowers and impressive rookie Anthony Hargrove, Fisher fought off the challenge and earned the job. After a 2003 campaign in which he had 47 tackles, two sacks and two forced fumbles, Fisher didn’t disappoint against Arizona.

    He finished with 10 tackles, a quarterback pressure, a deflected pass and a sack in the first quarter that resulted in a 16-yard loss.

    Rams’ coach Mike Martz said it doesn’t matter who you ask, that is the kind of performance you want from that position.

    “By anybody’s standards for a defensive end that’s a terrific afternoon,” Martz said.

    Damione Lewis, Young’s replacement at tackle, faired just as well as Fisher in the season opener. Lewis was solid in the middle, making one of the game’s biggest plays. On third-and-10 from the Arizona 35, the Cardinals appeared poised to make one final run at tying the game. Lewis promptly thwarted that opportunity bursting through the offensive line as if shot out of a cannon and dropping quarterback Josh McCown for an 8-yard loss. In addition to the sack, Lewis posted six tackles.

    Martz said the defensive line elevated its game at the right time.

    “I thought Damione played very well,” Martz said. “The whole defensive line did a nice job in there.”

    MORE ON MARSHALL: Marshall Faulk proved to the league that he has plenty left, but Martz has been singing his praises all along. Faulk’s 22-carry, 128-yard performance wasn’t his greatest statistically, but the way he got his yards impressed the head coach.

    Martz said Monday that Faulk appears poised to have a huge season.

    “Marshall was just outstanding,” Martz said. “This is the best he has been at this time in the season since he has been here in my opinion. I thought he was exceptional, just outstanding.”

    PLAYING IN PAIN: Linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa and cornerback Jerametrius Butler played solid games against Arizona, but it was their courage to play through injuries that made them stand out.

    Tinoisamoa separated his right shoulder after a huge hit on receiver Bryant Johnson to break up a pass on the first play of the second quarter. He went to the locker room, had the shoulder popped back in to place and put on a harness. Tinoisamoa returned to the game soon after.

    Butler dislocated two fingers, but also continued to play, finishing with six tackles and a pair of passes defensed.
    Martz said those are the kinds of players he wants around.

    “I think it says a lot about character and how important it is,” Martz said. “They are very unselfish players and they understand how important they are to this football team. I think that says a lot about (them).”

    Keeping the Rams Nation Talking

  • #2
    Re: Fisher, Lewis Impact Line

    How about that sack from Damione Lewis! That was a shocker!


    • #3
      Re: Fisher, Lewis Impact Line

      Pickett also was stuffing the line, forcing the RB's to turn outside. Our containment outside has to be better, but the Cardinals didn't really burn the Rams up the middle much so I have to take that as a very positive outcome.


      • #4
        Re: Fisher, Lewis Impact Line

        Pickett had an excellent game, maybe this will be his year, now that he is fully healthy and yes ZigZag that Lewis sack shocked me too!!!!! thats two in three years not bad :redface:

        steve :ramlogo:
        "The breakfast Club":helmet:


        • #5
          Re: Fisher, Lewis Impact Line

          Originally posted by Martz
          “I think it says a lot about character and how important it is,” Martz said. “They are very unselfish players and they understand how important they are to this football team. I think that says a lot about (them).”
          For once, I couldn't agree with him more. Tyoka had some inspiring words in pre-season and now you have key players demonstrating inspiring action. Combine that with the Da_Man Lewis showing the flash of brillance expected and the D could very well be ready to build on last year's highlight moments.


          • #6
            Re: Fisher, Lewis Impact Line

            It actually works out just right in the timeline, as Pickett and Lewis are just now getting up to speed from their rookie years a few years back. Would've been nice to have Kennedy make some progress this year, which he apparently was, but credit the FO with getting these guys and getting by the last couple years with guys like Zgonina and Young, etc...

            With Flowers as a former 1st round pick, we've got a ton of 1st rounders on the D line.


            Related Topics


            • RamWraith
              It's so far, so good as Lewis sets sights on staying healthy
              by RamWraith
              By Bill Coats
              Of the Post-Dispatch

              MACOMB, Ill. - As Rams training camp grinds along, the injury list fluctuates, sometimes brimming with names, other days identifying only a few relegated to the sideline. Often just as important is the players who haven't shown up among the wounded.

              Defensive tackle Damione Lewis is in that category, which ranks as a significant development. Lewis has participated in every practice, from start to finish, as he attempts to nail down the starting spot that Brian Young held before signing with New Orleans in the offseason as a free agent.

              A broken foot in 2001 and an ankle sprain last year cost Lewis 11 games during his three-year career and perhaps are the primary reasons he hasn't achieved the potential the Rams saw when they drafted him in the first round (12th overall) in '01.

              Living up to such lofty expectations, though, isn't paramount in Lewis' mind. "That doesn't even bother me," he said. "Every time I'm on the field, I've got something to prove. It's just the competitive part of it." Mainly, he just wants to stay on the field.

              "That's been the biggest thing since I've been here," said Lewis, 26. "I just want to be healthy, and I tried to work in the offseason to do what I need to do to stay healthy for the whole year. That'd be a big deal for me."

              And for the Rams. Without Young and defensive end Grant Wistrom, who went to Seattle as a free agent, two holes in the front four need to be plugged. So far, Bryce Fisher is manning Wistrom's right-end spot. And Lewis is holding down things inside, alongside Ryan Pickett. Pro Bowl defensive end Leonard Little handles the left end.

              Coach Mike Martz said the 6-foot-2, 301-pound Lewis has "had a real good camp. He had a good practice (last Saturday) against the Bears, good pass rush. That inside pass rush is so hard to find, and he looks like he's got some of that going for him."

              Tinoisamoa notices a difference this year

              For Pisa Tinoisamoa, the road from the University of Hawaii to the NFL All-Rookie team traveled through Macomb, where a year ago he was one of training camp's most pleasant surprises. Tinoisamoa, the Rams' second-round draft pick in 2003, quickly proved that he deserved a spot in the lineup at outside linebacker.

              It didn't stop there. Tinoisamoa, 6-0 and 235 pounds, started every game. He collected 121 tackles, making him the first Rams rookie to lead the team in that category. At camp this year, he said he feels like a grizzled veteran.

              "I'm just having a lot more fun because I know what I'm doing," he said. "Last year, it seemed like everything came at once, so it was kind of hard. But now it's moving a lot slower, I'm picking up things a lot faster, and that makes it easier. It just makes...
              -08-12-2004, 05:40 AM
            • RamWraith
              Competition Fierce, Deep at Defensive End
              by RamWraith
              By NICK WAGONER
              Staff Writer

              When Rams’ coach Mike Martz looks at his menu of defensive ends; it might depend on what kind of mood he is in to make his selection.

              Martz said he has as many as six possibilities to full the position vacated by the departed Grant Wistrom. Wistrom chose to sign with Seattle in the offseason after six seasons in St. Louis. Replacing a talented pass rusher and charismatic leader such as Wistrom could be tough to do with one player.

              “There was such an emotional attachment there,” Martz said of Wistrom. “We all felt like he was going to end his career here. It didn’t work out that way.”

              With that in mind, the Rams have a variety of choices to replace Wistrom, each bringing something different to training camp. Leonard Little will continue to hold down his position at left end as one of the league’s most feared playmakers. That leaves the six others to fight it out for Wistrom’s former spot.

              Bryce Fisher is penciled in as the No. 1 end on the depth chart. Fisher gives the Rams a solid, disciplined player who honed his leadership skills at Air Force. At 6-feet-3, 272 pounds, Fisher gives St. Louis bulk opposite the speedy Little. He finished the 2003 season with 47 tackles and a pair of sacks.

              Fisher’s spot is written in pencil for a reason, though. He will face stiff competition in training camp for his spot. The group that is angling for his job includes a former first round pick, a recently retired “plane pusher,” a grizzled veteran, a returning Ram and an unknown free agent. Any of them could win the job, but with only three training camp practices in the books, nobody knows who it will be.

              “I think last year I proved that I could play in this league,” Fisher said. “This year I am looking forward to proving that I can be a full-time starter for 16 games.”

              Buffalo drafted Erik Flowers with the 26th pick in the 2000 draft. After two seasons with the Bills, Flowers moved on to Houston, where he adjusted to a new role as an outside linebacker. Flowers is still searching for the fit that can prove his detractors wrong and a clean start in St. Louis could be the cure for what ails him.

              Perhaps the most intriguing prospect of the group is rookie Anthony Hargrove. Hargrove has been one of the camp’s early standouts, showing a quick burst and enough strength to pound against the run.

              After missing his final season at Georgia Tech because of academic problems, Hargrove took a job at Hartsfield Airport as a “plane pusher,” helping Delta move planes in and out and riding alongside the planes to make sure the wings don’t hit anything.

              Hargrove said he didn’t like having to wear the uniform Delta gave him because it was too small. That was the least of his worries there, however.

              “I was always thinking NFL,” Hargrove said. “Working 9 to 5 behind a desk,...
              -07-29-2004, 07:31 PM
            • RamWraith
              "Bone-crusher" hit left impression on Bryce Fisher
              by RamWraith
              By Bill Coats
              Of the Post-Dispatch
              Wednesday, Jan. 05 2005

              Rams defensive end Bryce Fisher, the reigning NFC defensive player of the
              month, never saw the train that plowed over him Oct. 24 in Miami. At least, it
              felt like a train.

              "That was a bone-crusher ... the biggest hit I've ever seen in football," coach
              Mike Martz said. "I mean, that was an ugly hit."

              Fisher was sprinting downfield to cover a punt return when Dolphins rookie Tony
              Bua barreled in from his left side. At 6 feet 3 and 272 pounds, Fisher had a
              size advantage over the 5-11, 212-pound Bua, a linebacker by trade. But Bua had
              the element of surprise going for him.

              The full-speed, blind-side collision dropped the unsuspecting Fisher in his
              tracks, and the effects lingered.

              "I don't want to make excuses, but it shook me," Fisher said. "I couldn't
              breathe right for a couple of weeks, and I was coughing up blood for another 10
              days or so."

              Fisher, who had earned a starting spot for the first time in his four-year NFL
              career, stayed in the lineup. But after collecting 38 tackles and 3 1/2 sacks
              in the first seven games, he mustered a mere eight tackles and no sacks in the
              four outings after the Miami game.

              In the five games since then, Fisher seems to have finally shrugged off the
              residue of the Bua hit and regained his early-season form.

              "You just don't recover (quickly) from something like that," Martz said. "He's
              just kind of now picking up where he left off. Because he was going great guns
              at that point."

              Fisher received the league award after recording 31 tackles and five assists in
              the stretch from Dec. 5 through Sunday.

              Interestingly, Fisher had big games the past two weeks coming off the bench,
              with rookie Tony Hargrove taking over the starting role on the right side.
              Fisher had seven tackles and a sack against Philadelphia and 10 stops and two
              sacks vs. the New York Jets.

              He finished the regular season as the team leader in sacks, with 8 1/2. Left
              defensive end Leonard Little, who had totaled 39 sacks over the previous three
              seasons and played in the 2004 Pro Bowl, wound up second with seven.

              But Fisher emphasized that if foes hadn't been concentrating on slowing Little,
              the stats would've looked different.

              "The way teams set their protections, it's to account for Little," Fisher said.
              "I've been lucky that I've gotten some one-on-one matchups against running
              backs and tight ends, and I've taken advantage of some of those opportunities."

              Award for Bulger

              -01-06-2005, 06:30 AM
            • RamWraith
              Air Force helps B. Fischer remain grounded
              by RamWraith
              By Bill Coats
              Of the Post-Dispatch

              Because he had no athletic scholarship offers in hand and little money in the bank, Bryce Fisher applied for the Air Force Academy in 1995. At the time, the NFL wasn't even a whim.

              "I went to the Academy with the intent of getting to play Division I football in college, because that was my dream," Fisher said. "And to become an officer in the Air Force."

              He realized both goals. Fisher, a star student as well as an all-metro football player at Seattle Prep High, was a two-year starter at Air Force, where he was named the Western Athletic Conference defensive player of the year as a senior. He graduated as a second lieutenant; today, he's a captain in the Missouri Air National Guard.

              But a funny thing happened along the way: Fisher developed into an NFL prospect, and the Buffalo Bills drafted him in the seventh round in 1999. The Rams signed him as a free agent just before the start of the 2002 season.

              At Air Force, "I grew 2 inches, I got in better shape, and I played for a guy, Jappy Oliver, who really taught me the game," Fisher said. Oliver, the Falcons' defensive line coach, "taught me about hand placement, footwork, what teams do in certain formations," Fisher said. "He said, 'If you do this, this and this, you'll be successful at this level.' And it just worked out."

              Before he joined the Bills, Fisher served two years of active duty, first as a coach and recruiter at the Academy, then as a transportation officer at Pope Air Force Base in North Carolina. Fisher has nine years remaining on his reserve commitment: He reports on Tuesdays to his "second job" - he's a public-affairs officer at the National Guard facility at Lambert Field.

              He said he learned to value discipline in his time at the Academy "It was kind of tough (at first), because every 16-year-old thinks that he's got the world licked," Fisher said. "It was good for me. And I made friends that I'm close with to this day, guys I consider like my family."

              Fisher, 27, is in his first season as the Rams' starting right defensive end. Grant Wistrom held that spot for five years before accepting a lucrative free-agent offer from Seattle in the offseason.

              Wistrom was well-liked and highly regarded, and Fisher knew that comparisons were inevitable. Fisher said defensive line coach Bill Kollar "put it out there at the beginning of the year. He said, 'Bryce, Grant's gone, and there's nothing we can do about it. We're going to find out whether you're good enough to be a starter.'"

              Coach Mike Martz said Fisher has passed that test. "That comparison (with Wistrom) is always going to happen, but he's worked past that," Martz said. "He's making his own statement. He's had a good season." ...
              -12-27-2004, 06:19 AM
            • Nick
              Rams are hoping they end up with defensive line answers (Post Dispatch)
              by Nick
              Rams are hoping they end up with defensive line answers
              By Bill Coats
              Of the Post-Dispatch

              Any coach well-versed in football-speak will insist that all starting positions are open heading into training camp. But realistically, only two spots will be up for grabs when the Rams assemble next week in Macomb, Ill.

              Both are on the defensive line: End Grant Wistrom, the team's first-round draft pick in 1998 and a five-year starter, snatched up Seattle's six-year, $33 million free-agent offer in the offseason. Brian Young, another free agent who was emerging as a top-flight tackle, accepted a four-year deal with New Orleans that included a $4 million signing bonus.

              Those losses are significant for a once-porous defense that had improved into a respectable unit. Last year, the Rams ranked 16th among the 32 NFL teams in total defense, and sixth in the 16-team NFC. They led the league in takeaways with 46 - 24 interceptions and 22 fumble recoveries.

              Wistrom, 28, piled up 108 tackles, fourth-best on the team and No. 1 among linemen, and had 7 1/2 sacks, a total exceeded only by All-Pro left end Leonard Little (12 1/2). Young, 27, had 102 tackles, No. 6 in team totals, including 2 1/2 sacks.

              Defensive line coach Bill Kollar acknowledged that the challenge of filling those holes effectively has him fretting just a bit. "When you end up losing two guys that really played good for you and really set a good effort tone, it makes it tough," Kollar said. "It'll be a pretty interesting task, and we'll just see what we're able to get out of these (other) guys."

              Despite his legal difficulties, Little is expected to report to Western Illinois University on Tuesday with the rest of his teammates, and to be available for the season. Meanwhile, Ryan Pickett started 13 games at nose tackle last year and should fill that role again this season, although he could wind up sliding over to Young's spot. Pickett's performance last season was hampered by a nagging ankle injury.

              The leading candidates to take over for Wistrom at right end are Bryce Fisher, a fifth-year pro who has started just once in 20 games with the Rams; Sean Moran, a former Ram who recently returned as a free agent; and Erik Flowers, a six-year veteran who played in only three games in his first season with the Rams.

              "Fisher will start out as the No. 1 guy," Kollar said. "Now, that's not saying that he is the starter. But right now, he's the guy that we've got in there, and it'll just depend on how it goes during training camp and the preseason games."

              Kollar also indicated that newcomer Anthony Hargrove, a third-round draft selection from Georgia Tech, could figure into the mix. Hargrove stood out at the team's rookie minicamp and was solid in the full-squad minicamp that followed.

              -07-23-2004, 06:47 AM