Jake Long set to cut loose for Rams
ST. LOUIS (AP) Jake Long wants to set the record straight.
The St. Louis left tackle is 100 percent healthy entering his first season with the Rams.
After missing the final four games last season because of a left triceps injury that required surgery, the 28-year-old Long is eager to cut loose.
“I’m feeling great, the best I’ve felt in years,” he said. “The triceps feeling good. Everything is feeling good. I’m moving around pretty well.”
Those words are just what the St. Louis brass wants to hear after signing Long to a four-year contract worth $34 million on March 22. He spent the previous five seasons with the Miami Dolphins and made the Pro Bowl four times (2008-2011).
The Rams aggressively went after the free agent in the offseason in an effort to shore up the protection for quarterback Sam Bradford.
The 6-foot-7, 322-pounder missed six games over the past two years, including the last two in 2011. A variety of ailments including biceps, knee and back injuries slowed his efficiency.
But the first overall choice in the 2008 draft is ready to show that those health problems are in the past.
“I know I’ve had some unlucky injuries the last couple years and missed some games,” he said. “But things like that happen and I’ve worked through them. Right now, I’m feeling good.”
Long is looking good as well. He works mostly with the first team, although he does not take all the snaps with the starters. Beginning his sixth season, Long knows what it takes to get ready for the campaign and he understands that the Rams want to take it easy with him.
“I’ll do whatever they want me to,” Long said. “I’m fine with them taking me out for a few reps now and then.”
Long has been butting heads with former first-round pick Robert Quinn in drills and scrimmages. The battles between the two behemoths have caught the eye of offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer.
“It’s fun to see those two going at it,” Schottenheimer said. “Jake’s doing great, he’s a pro and he’s working like crazy.”
The two late-season injuries the past two years gave potential free-agent suitors the impression that Long’s body may have a tendency to break down late in a long season.
But the soft-spoken Long disagrees.
“That’s just part of football, you get hurt,” he said. “When it happens, you just bounce back and work harder to get back out there.
That’s what I’ve been doing.”
The University of Michigan standout started the first 61 games of his career in Miami and never had any serious injury problems until the close of the 2011 season.
The Rams are hoping Long will provide stability to an offensive line that has used 16 different starters over the last two seasons.
Long realizes that his main role will be protecting Bradford’s blind side.
“That’s my only job,” Long joked. “If we keep him clean, I think everyone will be impressed with the way he’s going to throw the ball around.”