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Thread: Rams' Long stays positive despi
Rams' Long stays positive despi
Rams' Long stays positive despi
By Jim Thomas
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
When the Rams' snapped their 17-game losing streak last Sunday in Detroit, it wasn't the only dubious streak to end that day at Ford Field.
Rams defensive end Chris Long had gone 16 consecutive games without a sack before dropping Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford for a four-yard loss in the third quarter.
"It's a big weight (lifted), I'm not going to lie," Long said. "It's just crazy to go through seven games with zero sacks (this season). It just doesn't make sense. You're playing better ball than last year and you've got less sacks."
Long was almost sheepish talking about the sack, because it wouldn't have been his had not teammate Clifton Ryan whiffed on tackling Stafford after busting through the line.
"Cliff made a really nice rush, and I was just able to clean it up," Long said. "There's been times when people clean up my trash, so that's the way it goes."
Long had come close on a few occasions, and there have been a couple of times this season when his pressure flushed the quarterback into the waiting arms of a teammate.
Such was the case against San Francisco, when linebacker Larry Grant registered his first NFL sack because pressure by Long forced the quarterback in his direction.
"Nobody cares when you're getting close," Long said. "They care about the stats. And then you get one, and you're like, 'OK, so now it'll happen more.' It is important just to get the pressure off you, and just start playing."
Although it's nice to end the streak, one sack obviously isn't enough. Especially when you're the No. 2 overall pick in the draft — as was the case with Long in 2008. Particularly when one of the stated reasons for picking Long over defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey was Long's ability to rush the passer.
For a while during Long's rookie season, all was well. A two-sack outing against New England on Oct. 26, 2008, gave Long four for the season. He appeared well on his way to an eight-to-10 sack season.
As fate would have it, that Patriots game marked the start of the Rams' 17-game losing streak.
For Long, he wouldn't get another sack for an entire calendar year. But if Long has been frustrated during the drought, it hasn't shown in his effort or attitude.
"And that's a credit to Chris," Rams defensive line coach Brendan Daly said. "He comes to work every day, he battles. He's done the things we've asked him to do. From a developmental standpoint, he's been through two defensive schemes here over the course of two years. And we've asked him to do a number of things."
Included in his altered role under a new staff has been coming off the bench behind starter James Hall at right end. That has to be humbling for such a high draft pick.
"The way I look at it is we have a lot of good d-linemen, and I'm playing behind a great player," Long said. "I've learned a lot from James, and I'll continue to do that. So as long as I'm getting in there and playing a good bit, I'm having fun."
Long actually is playing as much this season as he did last year as a starter.
Take the Oct. 11 Minnesota game, for instance. Unofficially, Hall played 46 snaps, Leonard Little played 41, and Long played 39 in that contest.
Long usually replaces Hall after the first series, then replaces Little at left end. Long usually plays about one-third of his snaps at left end.
He's also deployed in a four-end front on passing down that also features Hall, Little, and C.J. Ah You.
Occasionally, Long, Hall and Little come out in a three-man front on passing downs. And every once in a while Long stands up off the line of scrimmage, as if playing linebacker.
"I'm asked to do a lot of things and I've got to be equally comfortable at all of them," Long said. "I'll do whatever I'm asked, always, in this defense."
The player known as the White Squirrel to his teammates has been active against the run, shows good range, and is a whistle to whistle player. Long's 37 tackles lead Rams defensive linemen.
"He wants to be good, he really does," Rams defensive coordinator Ken Flajole said. "And that's a good quality. If he doesn't get the production that he thinks he could have, there's probably a sense that he needs to get it. But I think it's going to come. And I like how he's wired. He's wired as a good football player. I mean mentally."
Make no mistake, Long wants do more, and knows more is expected because of his lofty draft status.
"I'm never going to lie about anything," Long said. "There's a lot of pressure being No. 2. There's probably 30 times more pressure being No. 2 than No.5 or 10. It's just the way it goes.
"My job is to play to my maximum ability and my capability, and to take coaching and get better and better. One thing, when you turn on the tape, you'll see I'm playing my butt off and I'll always be able to give that to this organization. The stats, they'll come.
"So I just try to keep things in perspective and be positive and work as hard as I can.
"It's never good enough, but I'm not going to get down. Ever."
-11-08-2009 #2Mooselini Guest
Re: Rams' Long stays positive despi
It's good to see he's got the monkey off his back.
As we have been saying, we don't have a disruptive player on this line. Once we do, I can almost assure everyone that the sacks will come.
However, as I've said all season long, he's been playing his guts out. He just hasn't been rewarded with the stats.
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