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Rams cornerback Fisher battles back from injuries

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  • Rams cornerback Fisher battles back from injuries

    Rams cornerback Fisher battles back from injuries
    By Bill Coats

    Of the Post-Dispatch

    The look of concern on Rams cornerback Travis Fisher's face after the Dolphins game two weeks ago was palpable. His right forearm was screaming at him, and he feared the worst.

    "It was aching real bad, and I thought I had broken it again," Fisher said. An MRI the next day alleviated his concern. "That's over, all the arm stuff," Fisher declared this past week. "I'm just trying to go out and have a big game."

    Fisher is a third-year pro out of Central Florida who started 26 of the 29 games in which he appeared in his first two NFL seasons. He was hurt in an exhibition game Aug. 23 in Kansas City, and a plate was inserted during surgery a few days later. Coach Mike Martz guessed that Fisher was done for the season.

    "It's a three- to four-month deal," a forlorn Martz said at the time.

    But almost two months to the day after the injury, Fisher was back on the field in Miami. He didn't have his best day: He missed a tackle on the Dolphins' first touchdown - an 8-yard run by Sammy Morris - and slipped to the ground on their last - a 71-yard catch and run by wide receiver Chris Chambers - in the Rams' 31-14 defeat.

    Acknowledging that he was a bit rusty after the down time, Fisher said: "I felt like I could go out there and make some plays. I made a couple, but then I missed a couple. I've been working hard in practice on the things I messed up in that game."

    Martz absorbed some of the blame for not recognizing that Fisher wasn't ready for a full workload.

    "I was remiss in not spelling him with DeJuan Groce; that's a coaching error on my part," Martz said. "He had conditioned really well, but still, you're not back to where you need to be. He's there now."

    When fit, the 5-foot-10, 189-pound Fisher is "absolutely a top-flight corner," Martz said. "I really believe he is at that level and will continue to play at that level."

    Fisher, 25, intercepted four passes last year, tying for the team high with fellow corner Jerametrius Butler, linebacker Tommy Polley and safeties Adam Archuleta and Aeneas Williams. The Rams' 46 takeaways topped the league.

    This year, though, they've come up with just six. Plus, the Rams rank 28th in the 32-team NFL in total defense and are 23rd vs. the pass. Those numbers chronicle significant downturns from 2003, when they finished 16th in total defense and 12th in pass defense.

    Significant defensive improvement Sunday against the defending Super Bowl champion Patriots (6-1) certainly would be a boon for the Rams (4-3). A sudden and dramatic turnaround probably isn't a realistic goal. But with the secondary healthy for the first time this season, perhaps substantial advancement finally is possible.

    "Any time you can establish a continuity and get to know the guys and get confident with them, that's big," Archuleta said. "We've just got to start to establish a comfort zone and start to get some games under our belts together as a corps."

    Archuleta had been slowed by a balky back and a sore hamstring; Groce, who started four games in Fisher's absence, has fought off knee and shoulder injuries; rookie corner Dwight Anderson has overcome a shoulder problem; and though he limped through training camp with ankle and hamstring dings, Butler has been in the lineup each week. After a bye week, Fisher - a rugged defender who plays the right side and is particularly adept at jamming wideouts at the line of scrimmage - is fully healed, too.

    "He's a tough guy, a real physical corner," Archuleta said.

    Fisher said that after two solid seasons, the injury was "a setback. I think any time you break a bone, have to miss a lot of games, and come back, it's going to be hard. But I'm getting there. ... The toughest part right now is just getting back into the game. The mind-set is there; it's just the fundamentals."

    No one's happier to see Fisher hale and hearty than Butler, who mans the left side.

    "Every game, I've had a different corner on the opposite side of me," Butler said.

    In addition to Groce, Williams and Kevin Garrett each started a game at cornerback.

    "It really doesn't matter who's out there, as long as we get the job done," Butler emphasized. "But I played a whole year with Travis, and I got used to seeing him on the opposite side of me, (No.) 22 over there. So it's nice to have him back."

    Keeping the Rams Nation Talking

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  • RamWraith
    Rams cornerback trying to recapture form after injury
    by RamWraith

    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."

    -11-04-2004, 04:07 PM
  • general counsel
    Travis Fisher
    by general counsel
    I have a clear nomination for biggest dissapointment for the 2005 season. My nominee is travis fisher. All of a sudden, he cant cover anyone. He got beat like a drum by a guy with NO career catches this week. He has NO press coverage skills at all and i think that his broken arm last year somehow adversly affected his speed as well. What a HUGE disgrace in his performance so far this year. I cant think of the last time i was THIS wrong about a guy and his skills.

    ramming speed to all

    general counsel
    -10-09-2005, 04:42 PM
  • RamWraith
    Fisher's injury puts secondary in tough spot
    by RamWraith
    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch

    After bumpy rookie seasons, cornerbacks DeJuan Groce and Kevin Garrett felt much more at home in their second NFL training camp.

    "You can see that confidence building in them," secondary coach Perry Fewell said last week, before the team broke from Macomb, Ill. "I think they're much more comfortable and not as anxious as they were a year ago."

    That confidence and "comfort" will be put to the test after Travis Fisher suffered a fractured forearm in Monday's preseason game in Kansas City. Fisher is scheduled to have surgery today.

    Immediately after the game, coach Mike Martz indicated that Fisher could be lost for the season. He softened that stance somewhat on Tuesday, but it's clear Fisher is out for an extended period.

    "No one really completely knows when we'll get him back," Martz said. "You can be very optimistic and talk about eight to 10 weeks, and then very pessimistic and say three to four months. ...We're not going to put him on IR (injured reserve) at this point."

    But the bottom line remains the same. Fisher, an up-and-coming cornerback, will be hard to replace - and Groce or Garrett will be the replacement. "They've both had very good camps," Martz said. "In fact, Kevin had a better camp than I would have thought. He had the furthest to go, just in his skills and his background. He didn't have the discipline.

    "DeJuan was a little bit more refined. And I thought Kevin caught up pretty good in camp. In fact, I was hard-pressed to determine which one had the edge."

    Groce normally is Fisher's backup, but Garrett has stepped into that role since Groce suffered a knee injury last week in Macomb. The injury occurred while Groce was planting in coverage against Torry Holt.

    Martz said Groce is close to coming back, but may not be ready to go until the preseason finale Sept. 2 in Oakland.

    "I think the swelling is out of the knee pretty good at this point," Martz said. "It's not as sore. ... It's a day-to-day thing. But if he's not ready, he's not ready."

    Even after Fisher's injury, the Rams don't want to rush Groce back against Washington on Friday, or against Oakland. It's the regular-season opener Sept. 12 against Arizona that counts.

    "Everything is about getting ready for that opener, and that's what we have to keep in mind," Martz said.

    Groce was the team's third cornerback last season, and occasionally got thrown into some tough situations - like that start against Hines Ward, Plaxico Burress and the Pittsburgh Steelers in October when Fisher was sidelined with a strained groin.

    "I got thrown into the fire sometimes last year," Groce said. "Having...
    -08-25-2004, 06:40 AM
  • RamWraith
    Garrett, Groce Move to Forefront
    by RamWraith
    Tuesday, August 24, 2004

    By Nick Wagoner
    Staff Writer

    About one year ago, Kevin Garrett and DeJuan Groce were rookies. Green as can be, the two young cornerbacks went through their first training camp with plenty of college pedigree, but little experience at the game’s highest level. They didn’t have to worry too much about stepping in and contributing on the field because of the presence of other talented corners Travis Fisher and Jerametrius Butler.

    On one play in the second quarter of the Rams’ second preseason game against Kansas City on Monday night, everything changed for Groce and Garrett. Fisher left the game after making a standard, everyday tackle, holding his right arm. It turned out the arm was broken and Fisher, who had four interceptions in 2003, could now miss the entire season. In an instant, Garrett was thrust into an unfamiliar role as the starting cornerback for the defending NFC Western Division champions.

    Fisher will have surgery Wednesday to get a plate put in his arm. He could miss anywhere from eight weeks to four months. Rams coach Mike Martz said Tuesday that he hopes to get Fisher back late in the season, but there are no guarantees. “No one really completely knows when we’ll get him back,” Martz said. “I think for us at this point, nobody really knows, so there is no sense in putting a time on it. It just gives somebody else an opportunity. That’s what they are here for.”

    Fisher’s absence leaves a gaping hole in the secondary that Garrett and Groce will attempt to fill. Groce sprained his left knee in practice on Aug. 18. He has not practiced since, but Martz said Groce would get back to workouts as early as Thursday. “We could possibly have him this week,” Martz said. “He will start running tomorrow. It’s a day-to-day thing. If he’s not ready, he’s not ready.”

    Garrett, meanwhile, appears ready to take his shot at the leading role. With Groce out of action, Garrett came in for Fisher and did a solid job in relief. Garrett was in a similar position to Fisher last year, when he missed valuable time with a fractured wrist. He played mostly on special teams in the nine games he appeared.

    Garrett is, perhaps, the fastest Ram. The second-year player out of Southern Methodist has had a strong camp, according to Martz. “Kevin had a better camp than I would have thought,” Martz said. “He had the furthest to go just in his skills and his background. DeJuan was a little more refined and I thought Kevin caught up. I was hardpressed to determine which one had the edge. That is good news.”

    If neither of the young corners can make the next step, there is one more option to replace Fisher. Aeneas Williams would probably be a pretty serviceable replacement considering he is likely to one day enter the Hall of Fame as one of the game’s all-time great cover men.

    Williams moved to safety a year ago...
    -08-25-2004, 06:41 AM
  • RamsFan16
    Fisher Feeling Fit
    by RamsFan16
    Fisher Feeling Fit
    Monday, June 12, 2006

    By Nick Wagoner
    Senior Writer

    It would have been easy for Travis Fisher to take a look at what the Rams did to bolster their secondary in the offseason and pout about it.

    Once considered a rising star at cornerback, Fisher has struggled to stay healthy in each of the past two seasons and those injuries have limited him even when he has been on the field.

    Instead of publicly whining about the team’s decision to use a first-round pick on cornerback Tye Hill and sign free agent Fakhir Brown, Fisher decided to use it as motivation to get back to the player that once showed Pro Bowl type promise in this, the final year of his contract.

    “When they drafted somebody in the first round, personally it was kind of like a slap in the face if I’m trying to get a new deal, but I can’t be pouting about it,” Fisher said. “I have to go out on the field and play. I just wanted to make sure that when I step on this field, I’m going to be the best cornerback out there.”

    During the team’s minicamps and organized team activities, it seems Fisher has not only been the best cornerback on the field, but one of the emerging leaders of the new defense.

    For most of the past weekend’s final minicamp, Fisher worked with the first team at corner alongside Brown. In a group of so many players, Fisher stood out on a number of occasions.

    During Saturday’s morning practice, while working on red zone plays, Fisher broke on a slant over the middle to receiver Kevin Curtis, dived in front and stabbed it for an acrobatic interception that brought applause from teammates and coaches alike.

    It was a small play in a practice, but it’s significant enough to note that Fisher is making plays that he made when he was fully healthy and productive.

    “He’s been playing great,” coach Scott Linehan said. “I said the first minicamp the guy I came away feeling the best about was how competitive Travis was in one on one and the whole thing. He had the injury and we didn’t know how he’d be able to perform.”

    For his part, Fisher wasn’t even sure what to expect from the new coaching staff upon their arrival. He played in just eight games last year, finishing with 35 tackles, no interceptions and a pair of forced fumbles as he dealt with a groin injury. In 2004, he played in 10 games after dealing with a jaw injury and a broken forearm.

    Health has become the top priority for Fisher. It’s no coincidence that making his health a priority has had a direct correlation to his rejuvenated performances in the team’s offseason program.

    Fisher was once thought to be one of the fastest Rams, known for his excellent closing speed in coverage. But, Fisher played the past couple of seasons a little over 200 pounds and believes that the extra weight might have contributed...
    -06-12-2006, 03:09 PM