Long Comes On Strong As Season Progresses
By Bill Coats
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
At about 3 p.m. Sunday, Chris Long will have completed the first half of his first NFL season. Fellow defensive end Leonard Little already has seen enough to be sold on his linemate.
"He's the type of player that can dominate a game ... a great asset to our defense," Little said.
The second player taken in April's draft, Long has started every game and has made steady progress. He's collected 35 tackles, tops among the Rams' defensive linemen, and his four sacks are the most among NFL rookies.
Long is on pace to finish with nine sacks this year — a total his father, Pro Football Hall of Famer Howie Long, exceeded just three times in his 13-year career.
"Every week you learn something new, and every week it slows down a little bit," said Chris Long, a 6-foot-3, 263-pounder from the University of Virginia. "All I can do is just try to get better."
Long recorded two sacks among his five tackles last Sunday at New England. But coach Jim Haslett said Long turned in his best game the week before, when he had five quarterback hits against Dallas.
"You can see that he's got confidence in what he's doing; he's playing fast," Haslett said. "Obviously, a better understanding of the defense helps. ... I can't wait to get him and Leonard on the field at the same time for a couple of games in a row."
Little missed two games earlier in the season with a strained hamstring and reinjured the muscle in the first half vs. the Patriots. His status for Sunday's home game against Arizona remains uncertain.
Little got his most extensive work of the week during Friday's practice, as did defensive tackle Adam Carriker (ankle). Both took a number of reps during the 11-on-11 "team" periods. Running back Steven Jackson (thigh) again shared time in the backfield.
Of the three, "I felt better about Leonard today than all of them," Haslett said. Their availability will be determined after they work out Sunday before kickoff.
The final injury report of the week listed all three as questionable, along with cornerback Tye Hill (knee).
RAMS CHOOSE REPS
In a meeting Friday afternoon with executives of the NFL Players Association, the Rams elected offensive lineman Adam Goldberg as their team representative. Wide receiver Dane Looker is the alternate. They succeed linebacker Will Witherspoon and his alternate, safety Oshiomogho Atogwe.
Former Baltimore coach Brian Billick attended practice Friday. He's working Sunday's game for Fox with play-by-play announcer Thom Brennaman. ... Cardinals long-snapper Nathan Hodel is a Belleville East High product, and kicker Neil Rackers is an Aquinas-Mercy alum. Both played at the University of Illinois. ... Donnie Avery's 337 receiving yards are third among NFL rookies behind Philadelphia's DeSean Jackson (505) and Denver's Eddie Royal (392). Avery's 16.9-yard average per catch is No. 1 among rookies with at least 10 receptions.
Re: Long Comes On Strong As Season Progresses
What I really love about Long is that he hits the field and does his job. No showboating, no running his mouth. I think this kid is going to be one of the best we've ever had.