|No. 2 overall pick comes to St. Louis|
|Written by Admin|
|Sunday, 27 April 2008 11:38|
It's been a whirlwind for the Virginia defensive end, fast separating himself from his previous life as the son of Pro Football Hall of Famer and Fox TV analyst Howie Long.
``I haven't slept as a St. Louis Ram,'' Long said after posing next to a No. 1 jersey along with new owners Chip Rosenbloom and Lucia Rodriguez. ``It's been crazy.''
He appeared comfortable at the microphone addressing local media at Rams Park, possibly because there have been so many interviews.
``Thousands, I haven't kept count,'' Long said. ``There's been a lot of questions and a lot of the same answers.
``But now I can tell everyone the truth, which is that I want to be a Ram and it couldn't have gone any better this weekend. It was awesome.''
Rams coach Scott Linehan immediately anointed Long a starter on Saturday, anticipating everyday intensity.
``It's instant energy, that's how he practices and how he plays,'' Linehan said. ``Nothing about this game fazes him at all. He's one of those guys that loves it 24/7, it's just in his blood.''
Long believes his NFL upbringing could make him better suited to make the transition to the pros than the typical rookie. But he pointed out Howie Long concluded his career in 1993.
``It has probably given me a bit of a mental edge, but at this point we're all equal as rookies,'' Long said. ``I think the game has changed a lot since my dad played and since I grew up around that game.
``I'm new to it, just like he's new to the process as well.''
Long is looking forward to meeting with Rams wide receiver Marques Hagans, a former Virginia teammate who played quarterback for the Cavaliers. He called Hagans ``one of the best teammates I've ever had.''
Conversations with veteran defensive tackle La'Roi Glover and quarterback Marc Bulger also served as a welcome. Bulger told Long he could ``crash at my place'' if he needed to.
``It was really encouraging to just hear how cool he was,'' Long said. ``That's a relief, it speaks volumes for this organization.
``He's the face of this franchise and the leader.''
Long said he hoped to learn from Glover, who'll be 34 next season. He scoffed at his reputation as one of the more polished defensive ends to come out of the draft.
``I need to work on everything,'' Long said. ``My technique might be good relative to some guys but I don't think technically the college game, especially with defensive lineman, is too high of a level.
``I mean, the press conference would go on for hours if I talked about what I need to get better at.''
Among the decisions he'll have to make is a new jersey number. Leonard Little has No. 91, his college number, and he's not interested in following in his dad's footsteps and donning No. 75.
``I think I'm cool with the pressure,'' Long said. ``But there's no need to shovel it on myself.''