PD: Jake Long settles in with Rams
Jake Long settles in with Rams
6 hours ago • By Joe Lyons
Jake Long is healthy, happy and starting to feel at home in St. Louis.
The No. 1 overall pick in the 2008 NFL draft, Long signed a four-year deal that could be worth as much as $36 million earlier this year following a drawn-out courtship with the Rams.
The University of Michigan product has since relocated from Miami to Clayton with his wife Jackie.
“It’s a great part of town and we’re looking forward to getting to know it better,’’ Jake said Tuesday during the team’s final week of organized team activities at Rams Park in Earth City. “I’m very happy to be here and I’m excited to be part of a team and an organization on the rise. The OTA’s have given me a chance to knock off some of the rust and get back into football again.
“After a little time off, I think we’ll all be ready for the start of training camp.’’
Long, 28, stands 6 feet 7 and weighs 319 pounds. He was named to the Pro Bowl following the 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 seasons, earning starting berths in the last three. After making starts in the first 61 games of his pro career, Long missed the final two games of the 2011 season with back issues.
He started the first 12 games last season before suffering a season-ending triceps injury that required surgery.
“I feel great, as good as I’ve felt in three or four years,’’ he said. “I wouldn’t change the last five years. Miami gave me my first chance in the NFL and I enjoyed some great times there. But for me, I think it was time for a change and St. Louis was definitely the right choice. This is where I want to be for the second half of my career.’’
From the start of his three-day visit here, Long was sold. But much to the chagrin of Rams’ fans, he and his wife returned to Miami to give the decision a little more time. Nearly a week after his arrival, Long accepted the Rams’ offer.
“With a decision that big, I think both sides needed that time to make sure everything about the deal was in place,’’ Long said.
Long said that his decision to leave Miami was influenced greatly by the philosophy of the Rams’ organization and by head coach Jeff Fisher.
“During my visit, I spent a lot of time with coach Fisher and realized why so many guys want to play for him,’’ Long said. “He has a passion for the game. You can tell this is a man who loves to go to work every day and it’s hard not to get caught up in that enthusiasm.
“This is a young team with a lot of talent and I think we’re all excited about the possibilities.’’
Long, who recently celebrated his 28th birthday, will play left tackle on an offensive line loaded with veteran talent. Center Scott Wells, an All-Pro with Green Bay in 2011, returns after missing nine games with a broken foot suffered in last year’s opening-day loss to the Detroit Lions and veteran Harvey Dahl is back at right guard after suffering a season-ending triceps injury in week 14 a year ago. With Long on board, Rodger Saffold, a fourth-year pro, moves from left tackle to right tackle.
All four of those projected starters have been working in recent OTAs.
The left guard spot is still up for grabs, with veterans Chris Williams, Shelley Smith and possibly second-year pro Rokevious Watkins in the mix. Watkins will miss the Sept. 8 season opener against the Arizona Cardinals after violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy.
Injuries hit the offensive line hard in 2012, but that unit came on as the season progressed, giving several members of this year’s squad some invaluable experience.
“It’s a strong group – I think we can be equally good at running and passing the ball – but the big thing right now is getting used to each other and developing that cohesiveness,’’ Long said. “The more time you can spend as a five-man unit, the more time you have to learn how to play off one another.
“In just a short time, I see this is a tough group that really likes to get after it.’’
Long, who played in three different offenses with the Dolphins, said he has had little trouble adjusting to the schemes of offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer and offensive line coach Paul Boudreau here.
“The main job is to open holes for the backs and to keep (quarterback Sam Bradford) upright,’’ Long said. “As long as we can give him time, Sam’s going to be able to sling it around the field and give our young backs and receivers the chance to make some big plays.’’
Re: PD: Jake Long settles in with Rams
The best part of this article was to read that Long is healthy, although camp with pads on will be the real test. Let's hope the rest of the line stays healthy too. Only then can we begin to realize the visions we're all imagining with our revamped offense.
Re: PD: Jake Long settles in with Rams
dare I say but I feel like this addition will be the key to the Rams ability to be much more consistent on offense. In a very good way!!