Aug 18, 2012; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Rams head coach Jeff Fisher looks on before the snap against the Kansas City Chiefs during the first half at the Edward Jones Dome. Mandatory Credit: Photo by Scott Rovak-US PRESSWIRE
There was a minor tidal wave of reaction when the St. Louis Rams signed free agent defensive end Vernon Gholston, the dictionary definition of the term "draft bust." Of course, Rams fans know all too well about draft busts, having lived through a decade of Trung Candidate, Tye Hill, Alex Barron and so many more. More than anything, signing Gholston is about having enough bodies on the field for Saturday's game against the Cowboys.
Don't believe us? Just ask Jeff Fisher.
"We need the legs because we're light," Fisher said. "We did our research and found out that he was in shape. Obviously, he was a high pick so it was an opportunity to take a look at him. So we'll just see how he does. We expect him to play a few plays this week. He's got a sense for what we're doing. We're not going to do a lot with him, but we'll get him out on the field and let him rush a little bit."
Gholston was in shape, and that was never a knock on him. The Rams got a helping hand to keep wear and tear off their players in the preseason game, and there's the slightest chance of some upside.
Fisher has worked hard to keep on top of his players' health with the hopes that it will pay off once the regular season starts. That goes for holding players out of games and practices, but they also apply that philosophy when doling out reps.
"That's done between myself and the training staff and the coaching staff for that matter," Fisher explained. "We all can tell when somebody's legs are tired or somebody needs a break or someone's sore and needs a day off. Or someone's in a position where they're at a greater risk of pulling something. We look at each individual player differently and right now everybody's pretty much on the same plane with a few exceptions."
That approach carries over to evaluating players on the roster fighting for jobs, from a starting role to the bottom of the depth chart.
"You have to use the practice field and you have to use the games," Fisher said. "We do the best we can. We spend hours as a staff discussing play time, and how many snaps, and who's going to play with whom and who needs this or who needs that. So you do the best you can under limited opportunities."
That's a meticulous approach to roster management, one that goes along way toward ensuring the Rams have the best group of 53 players from the 90 on the field currently. The concept of "Moneyball" looks vastly different from baseball to football, and fans tend to see far more of that quantitative management side when it comes to the draft. However, Fisher's approach to roster management, and handling injuries, certainly falls under that umbrella.