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Long opens eyes during his debut with Rams

EARTH CITY, Mo. -- Chris Long learned pretty quickly that his status as the St. Louis Rams' No. 1 pick in this year's draft does not disqualify him from rookie chores.

In his first day as a pro, the 6-foot-3, 279-pound defensive end from the University of Virginia was forced to lug the helmet of veteran defensive tackle La'Roi Glover from the indoor practice facility to the locker room at the beginning and end of the Rams' two-hour workout.

"It's one of those things," Long said. "Rookies got to do it."

Long, the second pick overall, didn't mind the inconvenience. He said the initiation helped him to relax during his debut with his new teammates.

During the first day of the three-day minicamp, Long looked right at home. Playing with the first-team defense most of the time, he caught the eye of coach Scott Linehan especially during pass-rushing drills. The players wore helmets, shorts and no pads during the workout, which was moved indoors due to a steady afternoon rain.

"Chris had a great first day out," Linehan said. "He was doing everything he was supposed to do."

Linehan was particularly impressed with Long's intensity.

"You don't hear him talk a lot," Linehan said. "He just goes 100 miles per hour, which is fine."

Long felt good about his opening-day performance. Although there was no heavy contact during practice, he said he learned a lot from talking with Pro Bowl defensive end Leonard Little.

"What a guy to have working with you on the defensive line," he said. "Anything he has to say to me is really helpful."

Long, the son of Oakland RaidersHall of Fame defensive end Howie Long, was chosen as the Defensive Player of Year in the Atlantic Coast Conference last fall when he recorded 14 quarterback sacks. He will wear No. 72 with the Rams.

Ever since his selection in the April 26 NFL draft, Long has been eager to hit the field. He finally got a chance to cut loose on Friday.

"I think it was pretty positive," he said. "I had a lot of fun working with the these guys."

Long's debut was one of the highlights of the first day of minicamp, which will run through Sunday. Linehan was excited about the look of his squad.

"I'm really pleased with the tempo, the attitude, the whole deal," Linehan said. "There's a pretty refreshed feeling around here. It's amazing what a new season, some new faces will do to everybody's attitude. The plan is to do less talking and do more work and produce on the field."

Veteran quarterback Marc Bulger also sensed a new outlook from a team that finished 3-13 last season.

"We want to just start clean, not look back," Bulger said.

Other than three players who were excused, the entire squad turned out for the workout. Safety Todd Johnson had a charity event that was scheduled before the minicamp was slated. He will return Sunday. Center Dustin Fry is getting married this weekend. Tackle Rob Petitti, who injured his Achilles' during the offseason, is still six months away from being cleared to return.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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