Long enjoys his first day of work with Rams

Coaches are impressed with his effort

BY STEVE KORTE
News-Democrat


Rookie defensive end Chris Long's first day of work with the St. Louis Rams felt more like fun than actual labor.

"It doesn't feel like a job, which is cool," Long said Friday after the first practice of the Rams' three-day, full-squad minicamp. "That was my biggest anxiety. I was worried it was going to feel like a job and not a game. But, these guys are out here having fun, working hard just like a college team would. Just guys here are better."

Rams coach Scott Linehan said Long, who lined up at right defensive end with the starting defense, caught his eye a couple of times during the practice.

"I think Chris had a great first day out," Linehan said. "I noticed him a few times. He was doing everything he is supposed to do. I know one time he got a nice rush on the passer, which is good to see. What is funny about Chris is that he just goes. You don't hear him talk a lot, which I like. He just goes 100 miles an hour, which is nice."

Long, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft and the son of Hall of Fame defensive end Howie Long, said he realizes that there are high expectations for him.

"Whether I was the second (pick) or a seventh-round pick, I'm going to try to be as ready as quick as I can," Long said. " I don't put anybody else's timetable on myself. I just work as hard as I possibly can and if I maximize what I can do at the end of the day then that's kind of what you get. If that's being ready by the first game to contribute, that would be great."

Long wore No. 72 on his jersey. The No. 91 that he wore in college was already taken by defensive end Leonard Little and he wanted to avoid wearing the No. 75 worn by his famous father.

"I saw the available number and I was like 'Oh that would be cool. Seventy-two sounds good, something different,"' Long said. "You know (New York Giants defensive end) Osi (Umenyiora) wears it so maybe I'll get a little faster."

Little took time to give Long some extra tutoring during the practice.

"Leonard's just helpful," Long said. "What a guy to have working with you on the defensive line. I think it's his 11th season. He's been in this game and he knows what he's doing, so anything he says to me, which is mainly just critiquing technique and game experience and stuff like that, is really helpful."

Linehan said Long could learn a lot from veterans like Little and James Hall.

"The great thing about Chris is that he is all ears," Linehan said. "He knows he has a lot to learn and he is going to the right guys."

Linehan said Little, who underwent foot surgery in the offseason, has been cleared by doctors to practice. However, the team is limiting his work during the minicamp.

"They cleared him for some team work and things like that now, which made me raise my eyebrows a little bit," Linehan said. "We will probably hold off on that for a little while, but Leonard can not stand watching. We will get him in there for a few plays, but still make sure we don't overdo it at this point."

Long has yet to go against Rams Pro Bowl left tackle Orlando Pace, who is participating on a limited basis in the minicamp as he continues his recovery from shoulder surgery.

Long went against Alex Barron, who played left tackle with the starting offensive line in any drills where contact was allowed. Adam Goldberg played right tackle with the starting unit the entire practice.

Rookie John Greco, a third-round draft pick out of Toledo, worked at right tackle with the second-string offensive line.

"He will be cleared and good to go for training camp," Linehan said of Pace. "We can't put him in that position yet."

Long said he hasn't gotten any teasing from his teammates. His indoctrination into the NFL has been relatively mild.

"No, it's been cool," Long said. "This is a team, and at the end of the day we all want to have the same goal. Besides 'carry my helmet,' it's all good with me."

Long said he thought he was picking up the Rams' defensive schemes quickly.

"I feel like I'm picking it up well," Long said. "I don't want to get ahead of myself. It's Day 1. I'm probably on page one of 100 in the (play) book, so I'm not going to get too high on how quick I picked it up. But, I think I've moved along pretty nicely."