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  1. #1
    r8rh8rmike's Avatar
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    Long Looks To Make The Leap

    Long Looks to Make the Leap
    Wednesday, August 19, 2009

    By Nick Wagoner
    Senior Writer

    The expectations that go with being the No. 2 pick in the NFL Draft are too numerous to count. When you’re Howie Long’s kid and you’re the No. 2 pick, you can forget about trying to satisfy everyone.

    With the bar placed higher than any reasonable person could jump, Rams defensive end Chris Long simply wanted to get accustomed to the nuances of the NFL game in his rookie season.

    Now that he has, he’s hoping to attack 2009 with the knowledge and understanding that can help him at least start down the path to meeting some of those lofty prospects.

    “It’s a great leap and it’s positive because it feels like football again,” Long said. “The first year, it’s definitely football, but the game just involves a lot more thinking than you’d like it to and a lot less reacting. Now it’s just kind of react and have fun playing again.”

    Ask any coach in the NFL about the transition from college to the NFL and they will tell you there is a long adjustment period that has to be made. The old adage says the closer to the line of scrimmage you are, the harder the adjustment.

    Still, Long finished his rookie year with four sacks and led the Rams in quarterback pressures with 16. By his own admission, though, Long has much bigger plans for his second season now that he’s been in the league for a year and nobody expects more from him than him.

    “I just want to get there more,” Long said. “I think we all want to get there more. Pressures are good but as a defensive front, we have to be dominant. I think we have the pass rushers and the ability to be dominant.”

    This year, the expectations and pressure do remain for Long but much of that has been transferred to this year’s No. 2 overall pick, offensive tackle Jason Smith.

    Fortunately for Smith, he has someone in Long around who has been through a year of expectation and he is able to seek out Long’s advice whenever he has a question.

    Long says he simply tells Smith to be himself and has great faith that Smith will become a great player because of his work ethic and attitude.

    “We all feel that pressure and being the No. 2 pick sure it’s good to see Jason have to go through it now instead of me but that’s the cycle of it,” Long said. “I am sure he will cope with it fine and like I told him ‘you will survive, it will be all right.’”

    While Long is admittedly more comfortable in his second training camp, he’s also going through the adjustment of learning a new defense.

    Of course, the prospect of playing defensive line in a Steve Spagnuolo defense comes with its share of, here’s that word again, expectation.

    Considering the way defensive linemen have performed for Spagnuolo in the past and the various way he can deploy them to get after the quarterback, Long and his linemates have nothing but excitement to get going within that defense.

    Long says adapting to a new system isn’t terribly difficult since he’s already had to do it in the move from college to the pros.

    “It’s different but when you go through a rookie year you are learning a whole system so you have already kind of learned to cope with a whole new system so the second time around you can learn it quicker,” Long said. “I feel like I am picking it up better. I feel like we are all picking things up well.”

    In this camp, fellow ends Leonard Little and James Hall have taken to the defense quickly and have been regular standouts on the practice field. But Long has also flashed the glimpses of a player who could have a breakout second season.

    During the team’s scrimmage at Lindenwood University, Long was right there with Hall and Little in a veritable race to the quarterback. He credits some of his improvement on working across from tackle Alex Barron, the more athletic type of left tackle that Long sees on a regular basis from his position as right defensive end.

    Defensive line coach Brendan Daly doesn’t want to put any type of ceiling on how much Long could improve from year one to year two but he has plenty of faith that noticeable progress will be made in the second season.

    “Who knows how big of a jump he can make?” Daly said. “He has certainly made strides since we have been here. Most guys do, particularly at the defensive line positions from year one to year two and the comfort with the game and understanding the speed of the game and playing against the power players that they go against. Chris I think will naturally because of his ability and having a year under his belt, you expect great things from and hopefully we will see that.”

    So far, Long hasn’t been asked to do a lot of the moving around that comes with playing in Spagnuolo’s defense. That’s by design as the coaching staff would like to get him completely comfortable and effective in one spot before he starts moving all over the place.

    When asked where he thinks he needs to improve most to make a move in 2009, Long doesn’t commit to any one thing, saying he believes every little detail about his approach on and off the field is paramount to having success. |

    “Everything I think comes into play,” Long said. “There are so many factors. You just know what you are doing on a full scale. You just know how to approach everything from meals to how to learn your plays. That’s the difference between being a first and second year player. I think the scheme is going to help bring me up. We are all happy with the scheme but I think me personally just not being a rookie anymore and getting it will help a lot.”

  2. #2
    TekeRam's Avatar
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    Re: Long Looks To Make The Leap

    Interesting that they're waiting on Long to get him involved with the rotations around the line, but I guess it's good that he'll get really good at either end position, since we saw him go between right and left end in the first game. I expect big things from Long this year. At least double digit sacks.

  3. #3
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    Re: Long Looks To Make The Leap

    We really need him to get going. I hoping he can become a game changer.

  4. #4
    maxxdigger Guest

    Re: Long Looks To Make The Leap

    For long to get double digit sacks we are going to need the tackles to pick there game way up and force the QB out of the pocket

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