Courtesy: Bill Coats - St. Louis Times-Dispatch
Chris Long, the No. 2 overall selection in April's NFL draft, had been part of the Rams organization only briefly when he was asked about training camp. Specifically, whether he expected to report on time.
"I was never into that holdout business," Long said. "That's real important to me ... as a teammate more than anything."
When a reporter persisted, asking whether there was any doubt about that, the 6-foot-3, 279-pound defensive end from the University of Virginia offered a quick, one-word response.
On Saturday, Long proved to be a man of his word. He agreed to a long-term contract and will join his teammates when they report to Concordia University in Mequon, Wis., on Thursday. Practices begin Friday.
Terms of the agreement could not be immediately determined, although coach Scott Linehan indicated that it covers at least five years.
Long, the son of NFL Hall of Famer and current Fox network broadcaster Howie Long, is the Rams' highest overall draft selection since 1997, when they took tackle Orlando Pace with the No. 1 pick. Long is expected to start at right end, opposite veteran Leonard Little.
Jay Zygmunt, the Rams' president of football operations and general manager, had met with Long's Los Angeles-based agent, Marvin Demoff, several times before the deal was completed Saturday.
Linehan said he was relieved to have Long in the fold.
"I was kind of anxious to get moving on this," Linehan said. "There's nothing guaranteed about when a guy's going to sign and be in camp. He was obviously a high-profile pick for us, and I'm really excited about it."
Contracts for the Nos. 1 and 3 overall draft picks, Michigan tackle Jake Long and Boston College quarterback Matt Ryan, respectively, were completed early. Miami signed Long to a five-year, $57.75 million contract, five days before the April 26-27 draft. Ryan received a six-year, $72 million deal from the Atlanta Falcons on April 20.
Long is the fourth of the Rams' eight draft picks in the fold. Previously signed were tackle John Greco (third round), wide receiver Keenan Burton (fourth) and guard Roy Schuening (fifth). Unsigned are wide receiver Donnie Avery (second), cornerback Justin King (fourth), and linebackers Chris Chamberlain (seventh) and David Vobora (seventh).
The others, Linehan said, should fall into line rapidly now that Long has a deal. "I don't anticipate any problems with getting everybody signed by the time we start camp," he said. "You never say never, but it would be pretty uncommon for anything to hold up the next group of guys."
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