Fisher: Rams' matchup against Titans is just another game

News-DemocratNovember 2, 2013 

— St. Louis coach Jeff Fisher didn't feel like reminiscing about old times this week.

Fisher will coaching against the Tennessee Titans, a team that he coached for 17 seasons from 1994-2010, this Sunday at the Edward Jones Dome.

"There's 16 players on the roster that were there when I was there, so the roster's just about completely turned over," Fisher said. "There's just a few coaches on the staff. Front office is turned over. To me, this is just another opponent. Now yes, I have great memories there and owe the organization an awful lot.''

Fisher guided the Titans to six playoff appearances, two AFC Championship games and an appearance in Super Bowl XXXIV against the Rams.

If the game has extra meaning to Fisher, he's not showing it.

"I think one thing that we all appreciate about Jeff Fisher is that he doesn't flinch," Rams quarterback Kellen Clemens said. "It doesn't matter what our record is, it doesn't matter what's going on, he is the same coach that walks in this building every single day, and I think that that's consistent with based on who our opponent is."

Asked if he ever thought about coaching another team during his 17 seasons with the Titans, Fisher said, "Well, I never came to work wondering what I was going to be doing next.

"It was a long time there. We had a lot of fond memories, developed relationships with a lot of former players, as you can tell at the camp with the guys that have come in and have stayed in touch with many others that you haven't seen in the building. But as far as I'm concerned, I've moved on. They're just another challenge for us this week."

The biggest challenge facing the Rams is a short week of preparation after losing to the Seattle Seahawks on Monday night.

On the other hand, the Titans have had an extra week to prepare for the Rams since they're coming off their bye week.

The Titans are 13-11 following a bye since 1990.

"Seattle had an extra four or five days because they had the Thursday game and then they didn't have to play until the following Monday," Fisher said. "It happens. That's how the scheduling works out sometimes."

Titans quarterback Jake Locker used the bye week to heal up from knee and hip ailments.

Locker has completed 94 of 152 passes (61.8 percent) for 1,047 yards with eight touchdowns and only one interception this season. His quarterback rating is 99.4.

The Titans will be looking to get running back Chris Johnson back on track. The speedy Johnson averaged 85 rushing yards per game during the Titans' first three games, but only 27.5 rushing yards per game over the last four games.

"His numbers are down but the skill set is not," Fisher said. "It's still there. He's still got the vision, he's still got the explosiveness and he can go the distance at any time. We talk about having to adjust our pursuit angles for him because it's a different speed than what we're used to playing."

Clemens will be making his second start in place of Sam Bradford, who will miss the rest of the season because of a torn ligament in his left knee.

"It was enjoyable," Clemens said of getting on the field last Monday. "I was told when I was a youngster still up in New York, Laveranues Coles said that they pay us to practice and we play for free. So, I believe it. We love going out there. It's fun to be out there with the guys, just wish I would have had a different result."

Clemens completed 15 of 31 passes for 158 yards with two interceptions against the Seahawks. He also engineered a 12-play, 96-yard drive that stalled on the Seattle 1 as time expired.

Running back Zac Stacy, who rushed for a career-high 134 yards against the Seahawks, is questionable because of an ankle injury that kept him out for all but the last play of final offensive series Monday night.

Running back Daryl Richardson also is questionable because a foot injury.

Even though their top two backs aren't 100 percent, the Rams still will be trying to open some holes against a Titans run defense that ranks 24th in the NFL by giving up 117 yards per game.

The Rams haven't played the Titans since 2009, when they were drubbed 47-7.

In addition to Fisher, the Rams have plenty of other connections to the Titans. Cornerback Cortland Finnegan, tight end Jared Cook, defensive lineman William Hayes and linebacker Will Witherspoon all played previously for the Titans.

Two members of the Titans -- offensive lineman Rob Turner and backup quarterback Ryan Fitpatrick -- are former Rams.

Contact reporter Steve Korte at skorte@bnd.com or 239-2522.

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