St. Louis Rams defensive end Chris Long learning another new system

Thursday, June 14, 2012 | 6:00 a.m. CDT
St. Louis Rams defensive end Chris Long takes part in a drill during practice Wednesday at the Rams' training facility in St. Louis.

ST. LOUIS — St. Louis Rams defensive end Chris Long is hitting the playbook again, learning another defense. It's nothing new for the former No. 2 draft pick.

"This is like my fourth system I've learned," Long, entering his fifth season, said Wednesday after the second day of Rams minicamp. "The fourth time around in a new system, I know how to study and get things done and figure it out.

"I'll be on top of these details. It's a lot of learning."

Rams coach Jeff Fisher and Dave McGinnis, the top assistant, are coordinating the defense this year. Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams was suspended indefinitely for his involvement with the bounty scandal in New Orleans while he was the coordinator for the Saints.

Long says so far he likes what he's seen in his first minicamp under Fisher, who replaced the fired Steve Spagnuolo.

"There's a lot of excitement and competition. It's everything you would want in a minicamp," Long said. "This is better than the OTA's. You have more time in the meeting room to get done what we need to get done. We can get more stuff done, review practice tape."

Long is the kind of player Fisher likes to have.

"He's really done a good job. He's a quiet leader," Fisher said. "He leads by example. He brings young guys along nicely. He's always here and he's dedicated. He understands the importance of pushing yourself. He's clearly one of the better ones I've been around."

Helping the young Rams is a duty Long enjoys.

The defensive line got a boost in the draft with the first-round selection of Michael Brockers, a 6-foot-5, 322-pound tackle.

Long is excited about the rookie out of LSU.

"Brockers, he's good," Long said. "I like his athletic ability a lot and his explosiveness. He's a good kid."

For his part, Brockers said Long has been helpful to him, answering questions and offering meaningful advice.

"I'm learning from these veteran guys," Brockers said. "Chris Long has really brought me in and put me under his wing and guiding me through this process."

While the Rams struggled last season in another dismal year, Long excelled. He had his best sack total — 13 — since he came into the league, recorded 37 tackles and had one forced fumble.

But that was then. Long is looking ahead.

"I just want to get better. I don't know if that would entail having better numbers, but I know what it would look like to be a better football player on the field and that's more what I'm shooting to be," Long said. "Whatever shows up on paper will show up on paper."

The Rams have a new coach, a new system and many new players. Will that be enough to get out of the doldrums the franchise has been mired in for the past few years?

Long said he thinks so, but he hedged his bet somewhat.

"I'm encouraged by it. We have a long way to go," Long said. "We haven't won anything yet. But right now, we're making the most of the opportunities we have, and that's what is important. That's all you can do in the offseason because you're not winning and losing games. You're competing against yourselves, and that's what we're doing.

"We're trying to get better every single day. It's a day-to-day thing."

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