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  1. #1
    poejoe8 Guest

    Home town newspaper article on Chris Long

    Local paper in Charlottesville on Chris and his development the past three years...

    By Jerry Ratcliffe
    Published: May 07, 2011

    Chris Long is a firm believer in repetition.

    He has always been a reps guy. The more times he’s exposed to something, the more he learns, the better he gets. The pattern began years ago at St. Anne’s-Belfield School, followed him to the University of Virginia and started all over again with the NFL’s St. Louis Rams.

    It’s interesting how his progressions at each level have mirrored one another. It’s almost predictable.

    “Chris started out slow in high school and became a great player, started out slow in college and became a great player, started out slow in the pros and I think he’s moving in the direction of being a significant player,” said father Howie Long, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. “That’s kind of the pattern for Chris. He’s kind of a 12-rounder kind of guy.”

    That’s how Virginia fans will remember their “home boy,” who may have struggled at first but rose to All-American status as a dominating, pass-rush defensive end under Al Groh and became the NFL Draft’s No. 2 overall pick.

    When Long started out slowly for the Rams, some critics were harsh, some even brutal, going as far as calling him a “bust.”

    But ahh, there’s the rub. Those critics never bothered to research Long’s history of slow starts and brilliant finishes. While he’s not even where he wants to be yet, Long made significant strides last season after being moved from right end to left, which is a more natural fit for his talents.

    “I’ve changed a lot because I’ve had to adapt to a program that’s very, very physical,” said Long, who maintains a home in Charlottesville and St. Louis. “As a college player coming in three years ago, there’s no way to prepare myself for the speed and physicality of the league. You have to work hard, have no fear, and the biggest thing is that your technique has to be perfect.”

    Long’s technique has improved vastly over three seasons, but he has spent the last couple of months trying to regain his playing weight of 270 after hand surgery after the season prevented him from lifting weights. He’s back up to 264, but carries it well.

    Due to the NFL lockout, Long and several of his former Virginia teammates have been in Charlottesville for the past several weeks working out. He’s been joined by Clint Sintim, Tom Santi, Cedric Peerman, John Phillips, Kevin Ogletree, Eugene Monroe and others.

    “It’s a weird time right now because normally everything with football is so structured,” Long said.

    Due to the lockout, the players are essentially on their own. There can be no communication between players and coaches. In fact, the Rams coaches were forbidden to even comment on Long (or any other player) for this article. That’s how out of the ordinary the process has become.

    “Right now, a lot of us are just working out,” Long said. “Lines of communication are cut because of the lockout. We have to go somewhere with people that we trust and luckily we have UVa and (strength coach) Evan Marcus and the trainers at Virginia. They have been very accommodating.”

    For present Cavalier players, it’s probably pretty cool seeing a host of NFL guys working out in the UVa weight room, sharing stories and hanging out.

    “It’s great to see all these guys come back,” Long said of his fellow pros. “It’s a great atmosphere in the UVa weight room and great to spend time with the college players. That keeps us young.

    “We’re not old, but we’re old to them,” Long chuckled.

    The veteran Rams defender believes he has improved each year, even from one half a season to another and his statistics have jumped accordingly, just as from his junior to senior years at Virginia when he had an extraordinarily high number of quarterback hurries that turned into sacks the following campaign.

    Long recorded nine sacks his first two seasons (his celebrated dad had 5 after his first two years in the league). Last season, Chris had 8.5 and earned NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors after making two sacks, two hits and a pressure against San Diego.

    “Chris is getting a lot of pressure, and the sacks are starting to come now,” said Rams cornerback Ron Bartell. “I think he’s starting to prove to a lot of people why he went No. 2 in the draft. Chris is all out. Every snap, you know he’s going to bring it. He’s a very intense guy.”

    Perhaps the slow start had something to do with taking time to adjust from the 3-4 defense he played at Virginia to the Rams’ 4-3.

    “Being a 4-3 end was a totally different deal for me,” Long said. “I always thought it would be easier going to a 4-3, can’t wait, and then you’re in a 4-3 and it’s a whole different type of game.”

    There are different responsibilities for a 4-3 end that the rookie never even thought about prior to living them, so it took time to adapt.

    Last season, the Rams moved Long to the left end spot that had been held by veteran Leonard Little for nearly 10 years, a spot that Long flourished in last season.

    “A lot of times they put you into catagories, such as the right end is your athletic, maybe a little bit smaller pass rusher,” Long said. “Left end is maybe the more physical run-stuffer. What I think we have in St. Louis is a really good group of guys that can do it all.”

    Veteran right end James Hall, who Long believes doesn’t get nearly enough credit, makes the whole thing go and the Rams are stronger up the middle now, which makes both ends more effective.

    Going from 3-4 to 4-3, then right end to left, has challenged Long but he has greeted each test with vigor.

    “As a 4-3 end, sometimes I will have to two-gap the tight end, which is a different deal because they’re quicker and more athletic than a tackle,” Long explained. “You might think it’s the same thing, but these [tight ends] are super athletic and most of them are stronger than college tackles.

    “So, it’s two-gapping with a tight end in front of you, but when you’re an open end, it’s a totally different pass rush angle, a totally different angle of playing the run, it’s a totally different mentality.”

    Encouraged by last year’s improvement (the Rams jumped from one win in ’09 to seven last season), the rugged end believes the club is on the brink of something good. He credits the acquisition of quarterback Sam Bradford, whom Long calls the future of the franchise, for helping make the team competitive in most every game.

    “I think Sam was the No. 1 piece of the puzzle,” Long said. “We were in a lot of games and had a chance to win several more. The key is getting over the hump and learning how to win close games consistently.”

    If the NFC West is as wide open as a year ago when the Rams could have made the playoffs with a win over Seattle in the regular season finale, then St. Louis has a chance.

    He will reserve his favorite memories until that happens, particularly in light of what a veteran once told him about savoring the moment in the NFL.

    “Somebody put it to me this way,” Long said. “They said that you play the game for a couple of moments. You go through a lot of hard stuff for just a couple of moments.

    “A couple of close wins, a couple of big plays,” he added. “You try to lock those memories up. That’s what I’m proud of right now, the little things. It has been fun to play meaningful football again. It’s fun to make a play on the biggest stage.”

    With the Rams’ improvement (the NFL has scheduled St. Louis for a couple of Monday Night Football games this season), there could be a lot more moments for Long to savor along the way.

    After all, he’s ever-improving. He’s a repetition guy.
    Last edited by r8rh8rmike; -05-08-2011 at 02:08 PM. Reason: Post article, not link.


  2. #2
    Trevor's Avatar
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    Re: Home town newspaper article on Chris Long

    Wow, started out slow in High school. Repetition type guy, probably the reason why he started slow in the NFL.

  3. #3
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    Re: Home town newspaper article on Chris Long

    So here's my question... We've seen how repetition made him made him better in 3-4 year cycles in High School and College. With what looks to be a 10-12 year NFL career ahead of him, just how good can he get?

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    Re: Home town newspaper article on Chris Long

    Quote Originally Posted by Ramendola16 View Post
    So here's my question... We've seen how repetition made him made him better in 3-4 year cycles in High School and College. With what looks to be a 10-12 year NFL career ahead of him, just how good can he get?
    Maybe it's the pedigree.

  5. #5
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    Re: Home town newspaper article on Chris Long

    Long is going to be a pro bowler very soon.

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    Re: Home town newspaper article on Chris Long

    Big thing I took from the article was how at UVA he had one year where he had a ton of pressures but then he came back the next year and turned those into a bevy of sacks. Remind anyone of last year? At one point he was, and might have ended the year leading the NFL in QB pressures. If he turns a 3rd of those into sacks, he'll me a starter in the pro bowl now doubt. And you know what will help? QB's getting scared of Quinn coming off the weak side and drifting Chris' way as opposed to Chris chasing them into Hall's hands...

    Very soon, it's going to be very very scary to face our defense...
    I believe!

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