Rams top pick Chris Long is showing he can play
Rams top pick Chris Long is showing he can play
Long applied a lot of pressure in win over the Cowboys
BY STEVE KORTE - News-Democrat
ST. LOUIS -- Rookie defensive end Chris Long didn't have any sacks in the St. Louis Rams' 34-14 win over the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, but he came close several times.
Long, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft, was credited with five quarterback hits or pressures in the game.
"I'd like to get there," Long said. "I'd be lying if I said that I wouldn't like to get there. That'll come. I'll be patient.
Link: Rams blog: Steve Korte's Ramblings
"I didn't expect to come in and set the league on fire just because I was a first-round pick. Some people do expect that. I just work my hardest every day just to help this team."
Long has 30 tackles, second among the Rams' defensive linemen behind James Hall's 31 tackles, and two sacks this season.
Long is 5.5 sacks behind his famous father Pro Football Hall of Famer Howie Long's total of 7.5 sacks as a rookie with the Oakland Raiders in 1981.
Those 7.5 sacks are not reflected in Howie Long's career total of 84 sacks because sacks didn't become an official NFL statistic until 1982.
Asked how many sacks his father had as a rookie, Long guessed three.
Long said he talks with his father, who serves as a studio analyst for the Fox Network, every day.
"We talk a lot," Long said. "Just imagine how much a kid talks to their parent anyway about whatever they're doing, and imagine if he played 13 years, he'd have some stuff to say.
"He's done a good job, though, of giving me my space, and really it's just when I have questions. We talk every day just as father and son."
Long said his father checks out the Rams games in the Fox Studio on Sundays. The two reviewed some game video during the bye week.
"I came home for the bye week, we popped in the tape and just looked at some stuff," Long said. "It's more just to see how things are going. Obviously, this is a great coaching staff, so there is not much that I'm not hearing every day. I think sometimes that gets blown out of proportion, but he's there to help, though it's more on how to handle my business day-to-day than X's and O's."
Like most rookies, Long struggled at first with the adjustment from college to the NFL. He had only four tackles and no sacks in three preseason games that he played in.
With nine games under his belt counting the preseason, Long feels like he's starting to get acclimated to playing in the NFL.
"You take some steps backwards sometimes, but overall you just get more and more comfortable," Long said. "Sometimes somebody can tell you something a thousand times, but the only way you can get better is to screw it up once or play through a game, and that is what I'm going through right now. I'm having fun and I'm getting comfortable."
Rams coach Jim Haslett said Long's continued improvement has been a factor in the defensive line's performance over the last three games.
"I think Chris is really coming along," Haslett said. "You can see he's not thinking, he's just reacting and really, this week was probably one of his better games.
"He didn't get a sack, but he had about four or five quarterback hits, and he was active in the run game."
The Rams' defensive line has nine sacks over its last three games after having three sacks over its first three.
Leonard Little has 4.5 sacks and James Hall has 2.5 sacks over the last three games.
"Obviously, it's going to help Leonard when James Hall has a couple of sacks from his side," Haslett said. "Adam (Carriker) has been pushing the pocket and is doing a nice job. (Clifton) did a good job on the center (against Dallas).
"The young guys are starting to play like we thought, too. Remember, Adam is a guy who played end and all of a sudden you move him to the nose (tackle) and you move him back to the three-technique, so he's still kind of in his rookie stage.
"We moved him around a little bit and now he's kind of settled in to where he's going to be probably for the rest of his life."
Long said he didn't mind sharing playing time with Hall at right defensive end because it keeps him from getting fatigued during the game.
"Instead of taking 60 snaps, you're taking 30-40 snaps a game," Long said. "Obviously, you're fresher. Rotating with James Hall is great. It gives us both a rest. I think he's a great rusher, as you saw Sunday.
"We're such different players that I think it might keep (offensive) tackles off balance a little bit."
Long already has gone up against some of the top left tackles in the NFL in Philadelphia's Tra Thomas, Seattle's Walter Jones, Washington's Chris Samuels and Dallas' Flozell Adams.
Long will be going against New England's Matt Light, who was selected to the AFC Pro Bowl squad in each of the last two seasons, this Sunday.
"That is why the game is fun," Long said. "You're playing the best of the best."
Running back Steven Jackson and defensive tackle Adam Carriker didn't participate in practice Thursday.
Rams coach Jim Haslett said Jackson, who has a strained thigh muscle, may attempt to participate in at least a portion of practice today.
Haslett said Carriker, who has a sprained ankle, was "iffy" for the Rams' game against the Patriots.
• Wide received Derek Stanley, who suffered a concussion last Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys, took part in practice Thursday after being cleared for contact
Re: Rams top pick Chris Long is showing he can play
Interesting article. He really seems like he's got a good head on his shoulders.