The ink has barley dried on Jeff Fisher's new contract with the St. Louis Rams. Since signing the deal on Tuesday, Fisher has been in the process of filling out his coaching staff. Those efforts hit a road block on Thursday when the Titans, his former team, refused permission for the Rams to interview their strength and conditioning coach, Steve Watterson, according to Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean.
Watterson has been with the Titans since they were the Oilers, for 26 years, much of that time overlapping with Fisher's time there.
After the rash of injuries the Rams suffered this season, hiring a new strength and conditioning coach makes for an interesting juxtaposition. Obviously, Fisher knows the guy and believes in his approach.
Watterson is considered one of the top strength and rehabilitation experts in the NFL. In 2002, he won the President's Award from the Professional Football Strength and Conditioning Society. In 1999, he was appointed to the National Research Council for Health (NRCH) scientific advisory council.
He also fits with Fisher's stated belief in having a tough team. Watterson championed the 1,000-rep workout, in which players did 1,000 daily reps of various exercises in three hours.
Many of the injuries the Rams suffered this season were of the freak variety, i.e. they happened more as a result of random circumstances, like tripping on the field at practice. Fisher's attempt to bring in Watterson signals a very serious intention to get those players rehabbed and back into fighting shape ahead of the 2012 season.
As for the larger lesson here, you have to wonder if the Titans will reject any other attempts by Fisher to make hires from their coaching staff. If they do and if Fisher was hoping to bring over a few from his Tennessee days, it could set his timeline back some.