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  • Fisher is holding up his end well

    Fisher is holding up his end well
    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch


    A half-dozen Rams players either grew up in the Seattle area, or once played for the Seahawks. So the fact that Sunday's game marks a homecoming for Renton, Wash., native Bryce Fisher is interesting but not unusual.

    No, what sets Fisher's return apart from some of his teammates is that the fellow he's trying to replace for the Rams, defensive end Grant Wistrom, is now one of the Seahawks' marquee players.

    Much was written about Wistrom facing his former team, particularly in the Seattle-area newspapers in the days leading up to the game. But Fisher says he feels no pressure trying to fill Wistrom's shoes Sunday for the Rams.

    "Pressure only comes when you feel like you're not prepared," Fisher said. "Grant can have all the publicity as long as we get the win. ... He was No. 6 overall (in the draft), and I was No. 248. When you're the 248th pick in the draft, nobody expects you to play well."

    So far this season, Fisher is holding his own at right defensive end, the position manned by Wistrom for the previous five seasons in St. Louis. In fact, Fisher's statistics are very comparable to Wistrom's, although Seattle has played only three games so far to the Rams' four.

    Wistrom, who signed a six-year, $33 million free-agent contract with Seattle in March, has 10 solo tackles, 2 1/2 sacks and two pass breakups for the Seahawks.

    Fisher, who signed a one-year, $628,000 contract last spring as a restricted free agent, has 12 solo tackles, 1 1/2 sacks and three breakups.

    "I'm doing OK," Fisher said. "There's some good things and some bad things. I didn't do as well against Atlanta and New Orleans - and go figure - we lost those games. I did a little bit better against Arizona and San Francisco. I need to continue to work at getting better and being productive for 45-50 snaps. Rather than last year playing 15-20 snaps."

    Fisher has a tough matchup Sunday in Seattle's Pro Bowl left tackle, Walter Jones.

    "I've played against him three or four times," Fisher said. "He blocked me pretty good the last few years. He's as good as there is. The good thing is I practice against a guy who is the best in the league."

    That, of course, was a reference to Orlando Pace. Jones is a couple of inches shorter and about 10 pounds lighter than Pace, but has great balance and recognition skills.

    "The game, you can tell, comes easy to him," Fisher said.

    Fisher is expecting about 15-20 friends and relatives in the stands Sunday at Qwest Field. His mother is cooking red beans and rice, with potato salad and hot cucumber salad for Rams defensive linemen to munch on during the flight back to St. Louis.

    Martz is rooting for La Russa

    Martz didn't have time to wish Cardinals manager Tony La Russa good luck before the baseball playoffs began.

    But they've become pretty good friends over their years in St. Louis - and kindred spirits.

    "We had quite a bit of communication during the (baseball) regular season," Martz said. "I thought all along he'd do this well from the very beginning. It's just fun to sit back and watch him have the success that they're having. He's a terrific manager and he deserves all the best.

    "He's very intense and relentless. His intensity doesn't wane, whether you see him in the morning, or you see him late in the afternoon, or after the game that night. He doesn't change. He's a very focused guy."

    That sounds an awful lot like Martz.

    Rare miss for Wilkins

    Including playoffs, kicker Jeff Wilkins has been on an incredible tear since late in the 2002 season. Beginning with a three-for-three performance against Arizona on Dec. 15, 2002, Wilkins had made 55 of 59 field goals before his fourth-quarter miss from 33 yards Sunday in San Francisco.

    "He's very, very competitive," Martz said. "And this upsets him more than anybody. He takes this stuff to heart. He's angry. He'll come back and respond well."

    Keeping the Rams Nation Talking

Related Topics


  • 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, 05:19 AM
  • RamDez
    A moment with ... Bryce Fisher, Rams defensive end
    by RamDez
    A moment with ... Bryce Fisher, Rams defensive end


    Bryce Fisher has taken an unorthodox path to becoming a starter in the NFL. Some players aren't recruited out of high school, as was the case with Fisher at Seattle Prep. Some players have to wait their turn until another player leaves the team, as was the case with Fisher while playing behind Grant Wistrom the past two seasons. But few players put their NFL career on hold for two years after coming out of college, as Fisher did after being a seventh-round draft choice by the Buffalo Bills in 1999 so he could fulfill his military commitment after graduating from the Air Force Academy. The Renton-born Fisher took a few minutes this week to discuss his unusual path and past, as well as tomorrow's "homecoming" game against the Seahawks at Qwest Field.

    Q: You've come at this in a different way, has it worked out?

    A: "Yeah, it's worked out well. I started two years active duty out of the Academy. Now I've got my fourth year in the league. I can't complain one bit."

    Q: What was your initial reaction when you heard Wistrom had signed with the Seahawks in March?

    "I was happy for Grant, getting to move on. Plus, he gets to live in God's country now. You can't beat it, as far as I'm concerned. So I was happy for him. The guy works his butt off, and you guys are seeing the kind of player he is. Even though the last couple of years he hasn't been the 12- or 13-sack guy, he's good for 80-plus tackles, he's going to play hard, he's going to be a good leader. He deserves everything he got."

    Q: Is there still anything special about playing at home, even though you've been here the past two seasons?

    "It was cool the first couple times, getting to come home. But it's just like any other road game. I've just got to go out there and play hard and do all the things we need to do so we can win this week. It will be a good chance for me to see my family on Saturday night and get to hang out with them. Since I graduated from high school, I haven't had a whole lot of opportunity to be home in Seattle. My mom, my dad, both my brothers will be at the game. Everybody in my family is there."

    Q: The players' day off in the NFL is Tuesday, how do you spend yours?

    "I'm in the reserves. So Tuesdays during the season I go in and do my duty, because normally you're required to do one weekend a month. Instead, I do four Tuesday afternoons to make up for the weekend that I miss. It's a pretty good opportunity for me to get to play on Sunday and then get do a little service on Tuesday."

    -- Clare Farnsworth
    -10-10-2004, 01:10 AM
  • RamWraith
    Former Rams return - in Seahawks blue
    by RamWraith
    By Kathleen Nelson

    Not only have the Seattle Seahawks stolen a pair of Rams defensive ends, they've taken away the team's meal ticket in Seattle.

    First, Grant Wistrom left St. Louis for the Pacific Northwest after the 2003 season. Last year, Bryce Fisher departed to return to mom's home cooking. A native of Renton, Wash., Fisher sweet-talked his mother, Diana Ferrant, into laying out a spread for his Rams teammates on their annual visits to Seattle. Among the delicacies were paella, red beans and rice, chicken, pork chops, potato salad and cucumber salad, a favorite of fellow DE Leonard Little.

    "My mom doesn't root for you guys anymore," Fisher said on a conference call Wednesday. "As far as she's concerned, her baby is home, and the only people she needs to feed are Seattle Seahawks. My mom used to do it big. Now, these guys get to eat my mom's food."

    Lucky for the Rams' stomachs that their first meeting with the Seahawks is Sunday at the Edward Jones Dome.

    "We feel very fortunate to have them," Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren said of Wistrom, Fisher and presumably, Fisher's mom. "They're doing the same things for us that they did for the Rams. They give you everything they have. They play hard, and they're good people."

    The move to Seattle was logical for Fisher, who led the Rams last year with 8 1/2 sacks, the same number as the man he replaced in Seattle, Chike Okeafor. Then again, he didn't have many options, as the Seahawks were the only team to make him an offer in free agency.

    "St. Louis didn't even make an offer to try to keep me," he said, but added, "I love it. This is where I'm from. I get paid a lot of money, I start and I'm home. You can't beat that."

    Fisher is just one piece of a rebuilt puzzle that features seven new starters on defense. He said the transition "hasn't been too tough," and again this year, Fisher leads the Seahawks in sacks, with three in four games.

    One of the biggest plusses, besides mom's home cookin', is having Wistrom serve as the bookend on the right side. Fisher served as Wistrom's backup in St. Louis and got the chance to shine after Wistrom left for Seattle.

    "He's a great guy," Fisher said. "We're back to busting each other's chops and giving each other a hard time. It's just like when I was in St. Louis a couple years ago."

    With a four-year, $10 million contract, Fisher said he had something to prove. Wistrom knows the feeling. In fact, he can't shake it. After missing five games in his first six seasons, Wistrom missed eight games because of injuries to his knee, foot and back in 2004, when he made 38 tackles and had 3 1/2 sacks. So, he approaches 2005 almost as if it's the first year of his six-year, $33 million deal.
    -10-09-2005, 07:31 AM
  • ZigZagRam
    Bryce Fisher a Seahawk
    by ZigZagRam
    B. Fisher leaves Rams for Seahawks

    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch

    Rams defensive end Bryce Fisher sacks Arizona QB Josh McCown in the 2004 season opener.
    ( Robert Cohen/P-D)

    Defensive end Bryce Fisher, the Rams sack leader in 2004, is headed to the Seattle Seahawks. Fisher agreed to terms Tuesday on a four-year deal with the Seahawks worth $10 million.

    It will be a homecoming for Fisher, 27, a native of Renton, Wash., who attended Seattle Prep High.

    I get to go home, so Im excited about that, Fisher said Tuesday afternoon. I get a chance to play in front of the home fans every week.

    But Fisher also expressed some disappointment that the Rams didnt make a contract offer.

    Id been in contact with the Rams coaching staff and told them that I think Seattles going to make me an offer, and that if they make me an offer Im probably going to take it, Fisher said.

    But the Rams have made a commitment to Anthony Hargrove as their starting right end in 2005. They were interested in re-signing Fisher only as their No. 3 defensive end -- and at No. 3 defensive end prices.

    Fisher wanted a chance to be a starter, and be paid like a starter, an opportunity he will get in Seattle.

    So now, when the Rams play Seattle twice a year in what has become an intense and entertaining NFC West rivalry, they will face former Rams at both defensive end positions for the Seahawks: Fisher and Grant Wistrom.

    After being released by Buffalo at the end of the 2002 preseason, Fisher revived his career with the Rams. He appeared in only four games for St. Louis in 02, but became a regular part of the defensive line rotation in 03, finishing with 47 tackles and two sacks.

    When Wistrom signed a free-agent deal with Seattle following the 03 season, Fisher took over for him in the starting lineup in St. Louis. Fisher started the first 14 games of the 04 campaign before giving way to Hargrove in the starting lineup.

    He finished the season with a team-high 8 sacks and was seventh on the team in tackles
    -03-15-2005, 03:45 PM
  • RamDez
    Fisher has lead in battle to replace Wistrom
    by RamDez
    Fisher has lead in battle to replace Wistrom
    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Saturday, Aug. 21 2004

    Grant Wistrom was a five-year starter for the Rams at right defensive end. A
    hustler. A hard-nosed player. And later in his tenure in St. Louis, a locker
    room leader. But whatever mourning period there was following his free-agent
    departure to Seattle has long since passed.

    "That's the way it works," defensive captain Tyoka Jackson said. "No one's
    sitting around saying, 'Oh, Grant's gone.' He was a great player. Great locker
    room guy. Great friend. But he's on the wrong side of the ball now."

    As for replacements, Jackson says, "We've got some guys. People may not know
    who they are, but we've got some guys."

    At the moment, Bryce Fisher and Erik Flowers are the top two ends on the right
    side. Both were washouts in Buffalo - the team that originally drafted them -
    but both appear intent on making the most of the opportunity in St. Louis.

    Talented but raw rookie Anthony Hargrove eventually could work himself back
    into the picture at right end. But for now, the team has been looking at him at
    defensive tackle.

    For all of his contributions in St. Louis, Wistrom was never an elite pass
    rusher. He had superior speed and effort, but not much in the way of moves.
    Fisher and Flowers have the potential - repeat, potential - to be at least as
    productive. They combined for three sacks in the preseason opener against
    Chicago - one by Fisher and two by Flowers off the bench.

    "Bryce has got real good instincts," defensive line coach Bill Kollar said. "He
    plays with pretty good strength most of the time; plays with leverage so he's
    able to end up hanging in there against the bigger players."

    Fisher isn't as fast as Wistrom but has a good short burst. And like Wistrom,
    effort has never been a problem.

    "That's how I made it into the league," Fisher said. "And that's how I plan on
    staying in the league, just by being that guy that keeps on hustling."

    Claimed off waivers from Buffalo just before the start of the '02 season,
    Fisher appeared in only four games for the Rams that year. But he talked his
    way onto special teams last season, including coverage units - which aren't
    normally the domain of defensive linemen. That got Fisher on the field on game
    day, and eventually got him in the defensive line rotation. He finished with 47
    tackles and three sacks.

    "Last year, I was really focusing on being the very best special teams player I
    could, and then trying to get as many reps on defense as I could," Fisher said.
    "It kind of worked out where...
    -08-21-2004, 10:57 AM