Sunday, July 29, 2012
The Fisher difference in Rams' first practice
By Mike Sando
EARTH CITY, Mo. -- Steve Spagnuolo would dart around the St. Louis Rams' practice field during training camp, visiting each position group, demonstrating his intention to coach the full squad, not just the defense.
Spagnuolo would focus with an intensity revealed through his stance: feet wide apart, legs bent, hands on knees, leaning forward as if ready to pounce.
Jeff Fisher didn't have to say much during the first practice of Rams' training camp.
That was then. This was Sunday: Jeff Fisher, conducting his first training camp practice as the Rams' head coach, walking around the field as if he's been coaching forever, which is pretty close to the truth by NFL standards.
Every coach has his own style. First-time head coaches sometimes have to work to establish themselves in the role.
Fisher, a head coach for 16 of the previous 17 full seasons, just has to show up. His leadership style is already the storyline of this training camp.
"The greatest thing about Coach Fisher is he is confident and he is so confident, he doesn't feel like he has to come out and give us a bunch of lip service every meeting, every practice," quarterback Sam Bradford said after practice.
I watched Fisher closely and was prepared to chronicle his every move and command. There wasn't much to chronicle.
Fisher was engaged and involved without being demonstrative. He chatted with general manager Les Snead and chief operating officer Kevin Demoff during the early portion of practice. At one point, he called out instructions for defensive players to line up on the near sideline. Assistant head coach Dave McGinnis repeated the instructions. Fisher would confer with an assistant on occasion. I never heard him yell at a player.
"He doesn't say much but when he speaks, everyone listens because if he is saying something, it's for a reason and it's extremely important," Bradford said. "His natural vibe, his calmness, his confidence just rubs off on everyone. When you're around him for 3-4 months in the offseason and then you're around him in camp every day, I think everyone just kind of feeds off that. It takes over the team."
That was the initial feel from Rams camp, where 1,600 spectators watched amid relatively pleasant (for St. Louis recently) conditions. I'll be back with notes from practice in a bit.