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Fisher hires Walton as defensive coordinator

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ST. LOUIS (AP) - Finally, the St. Louis Rams have a defensive coordinator.

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After interviewing several big-name candidates, including Rob Ryan, Mike Singletary and Dick Jauron, coach Jeff Fisher decided on Tim Walton, a Lions secondary coach who is still building his resume.

``At the end of the day, you take advantage of patience, and we did so,'' Fisher said Friday at a news conference to announce the hire. ``Without hesitation, he is absolutely the right guy.''

Fisher said he spent two days with Jauron and one with Singletary, neither of whom he felt were good fits because of differences in terminology. Ryan, hired as the Saint defensive coordinator last week, got a longer look before backing out.

``We went down the road and spent a lot of time together and that's what you have to do, you can't just kneejerk react and run out and hire somebody,'' Fisher said. ``We did that with Rob, we spent a day together with the staff and just felt at the end of the day it was not the right fit.''

The Rams finally settled on the 41-year-old Walton, whose top selling point for Fisher was familiarity with the system. Walton coached under former Fisher aide Jim Schwartz in Detroit, who runs a similar defense.

Walton understands it so well that Fisher tried to hire him last year as defensive coordinator/passing game. Walton got additional responsibilities in Detroit, adding third down responsibilities to his title, and the Rams went without a coordinator to replace Gregg Williams, who was suspended all season for his role in the Saints' bounty scandal.

``Yeah, I ended up staying around with that,'' Walton said in a conference call with reporters. ``I could have easily still come up there. I'm extremely excited that I get a chance to be involved with him this year. He is a very knowledgeable coach, and a great guy. I hope I get to be there for a long time.''

Fisher said he had a ``great deal of interest in Tim last year and for whatever reason it did not work out. Things aren't necessarily going to change from the process standpoint,'' Fisher added, ``he just fits in and makes us better.''

Walton planned on being on the job Monday and then will accompany the team to the NFL combine. He said adjusting to the style would be an ``easy transition and a smooth transition.''

``They've got a lot of great players, a great atmosphere and a great attitude,'' Walton said. ``It's a great opportunity for me.''

Fisher had little to say about cutting ties with Williams, a longtime former aide. The Rams hired Frank Bush as linebackers coach last week after firing Williams' son, linebackers coach Blake Williams.

``We had obviously from March when the commissioner made the decision all the way through the end of the year to contemplate that,'' Fisher said. ``And we just felt as an organization it was best to go on.''

Fisher was among three former defensive coordinators who shared responsibilities in his first season in St. Louis after Williams was suspended. Williams was reinstated last week and hired by the Titans, where he previously worked under Fisher as a senior defensive assistant.

The Lions had injury woes on defense last year. Still, they were 10th in the NFL in third-down defense, allowing opponents to convert 36.5 percent of their chances.

Walton also was a college coach for 14 seasons, including stints as a defensive coordinator at the University of Miami and Memphis. He was on the LSU staff in 2003 for a team that won the BCS national title.

In college, Walton lettered four seasons at Ohio State as a defensive back and was a co-captain for the 1993 Big Ten championship team.

Fisher said the college coordinating experience was ``not important,'' adding that ``what goes on Sunday is a collective effort.''

Bush was linebackers coach at Tennessee the past two seasons and is entering his 23rd season coaching in the NFL. He previously was defensive coordinator for two seasons in Houston.

AP NEWS
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The Associated Press
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