As I mentioned yesterday, I had the chance to talk to St. Louis Rams defensive end Chris Long this week. Long was at Kirkwood High School with the Gatorade G Series Mobile Locker Room talking to student athletes there about the importance of proper training, nutrition and hydration strategies and to help inspire them to perform at their best.
Chris shared his thoughts on the defensive line, the way forward for the Rams and much more. The full interview is below. A huge thanks to Chris and the folks with Gatorade on behalf of everyone at TST for making this happen.
VanRam: Chris, how are you today?
Chris Long: I'm doing well. I'm down here at this very nice high school, Kirkwood High School. I can't believe how nice it is. They've got this G Series Locker Room out here...it's pretty spectacular.
Below the fold: Long's thoughts on the Rams DL, the team's direction for 2010, what he does in the offseason and more on the G Series.
VR: Tell us a little about the G Series Locker Room and your experience in Kirkwood today.
CL: First of all, what a nice high school they have. It's pretty unbelievable. I walked in there and said 'I wish I could go back to high school.' Their facilities are awesome. They've got this G Series Mobile Locker Room which is pretty cool; it's like a pro locker room on wheels. It's got the stations where you can weigh in and get your fluid loss total before and after, which is stuff we do. Actually, we don't even have that.
I'm here talking about the Gatorade G Series which is a really cool thing I can't wait for. It's going to come out in April. It tailors to athletes' nutritional needs before during and after which is something I think is kind of cutting edge, so I'm pretty exctied about that.
VR: What does it do for an athlete before and after a game?
CL: People forget about the after. People think 'it's over, no big deal.' But you've got to replace the things you lose and with Gatorade recovery drink...it's going to help a lot. It's got protein, carbs and electrolytes, things that you lose during competition. Then you've got Gatorade Prime. I cant wait to use it. You know, it's very important to put those things into you body that you're going to be losing as well.
VR: Is Gatorade Prime a drink, an energy bar?
CL: You know, I asked the same thing. It's kind of in-between. It's still a drink. It's in a really cool package. I'm excited about what it's got in there. Me, as an athlete, I'm excercising multiple times a day...lifts, practice. Bring a pro athlete you don't always have time to eat a meal. This Gatorade Prime is going to fuel you substantially before a competition.
VR: You going to get some of that stuff at Rams Park this year?
CL: Yeah, I'm hoping so. If we don't, I'm going to push for it.
VR: Since we're talking about locker rooms, let me ask you about the Rams locker room. GIve us an idea what it's been like in the face of a tough year. I know the record suffered, but the team did make some strides down the stretch.
CL: First off, I'd say the locker room, although we were in a bad spot record-wise, the locker room was doing really well. We all meshed together. We all worked really hard. Every week we came out there like we had a lot on the line, which we did. We're not going to look backwards, except to build on the positives. This is a new year, and we've got to start over fresh. Nobody's going to give us wins; we've got to go earn them.
VR: Tell us about Spags' philosophy on the defensive line, your job and the expectations for the other three guys up front with you.
CL: As a defensive line, when Spags came from New York, we saw what the strength of that team was in winning the Super Bowl, and I think the biggest premium is on defensive linemen and quarterbacks. Those two positions are really important. I'm excited to see how we're going to get better as a defensive line and put a lot of that onus on us to win ball games.
VR: What are the positive things you that you personally and as a team took away from last season? What are the things you're going to build on in 2010?
CL: I really do believe we improved as a team. I think when you have a totally new regime coaching-wise you have to get that chemsitry going. I think it takes some time. It's a new staff, it's a new ideology, there are new guys in the locker room. I think we built that foudnation last year through adversity. We're going to try to build on that for sure.
As an individual, I feel like I was able to improve toward the end of the year and play a little bit more the way I want to play. I'm going to build on the things I was doing well and fix the things I wasn't doing well.
VR: You mentioned that second half of the season. That second half, you picked up the sacks, got the stuff on the stat sheet. What was different about that half of the season for you?
CL: The big difference was the just the sacks. I was playing the run well most of the season. I had to pick up my pass rushing a little bit, and there were some things I did getting more comfortable with the scheme, adjusting my game a litle bit and just kind of let it fly once I felt comfortbale with the scheme. I'm not the only one who had the burden of learning a new scheme. But once you master that scheme it was just a great scheme. I feel like a lot of guys improved. I was certainly one of those guys, but there's a long way to go. I think the biggest thing is that I was getting to the quarterback more.
VR: Anything else you want to add about 2010?
CL: I'm just really looking forward to it. We start on Monday with our offseason program. We had great attendance for guys last year, which is not something you take for granted. In my expereince so far, these guys, this group of guys have been really special as far as showing up everyday and working relly hard. I know it's going to pay off. I'm excited to see how hard we get after it this offseason.
VR: How did you react to the news that the Rams had signed Fred Robbins?
CL: I was really excited. I mean here's a guy with great experience, a Super Bowl ring...a great player. I've watched Fred Robbins play and really admired his play. He'll be able to help us all out. He's an expereinced guy. I've tried to draw on the experience of guys like Leonard Little, James Hall and La'roi Glover...how to play the game, how to work every day, those things that make you a better player.
VR: James Hall and Leonard Little have both been in New Orleans this week. Are you hoping the Rams can bring back one or both of those guys?
CL: I love those guys and they've given me a lot as a player. I've learned a lot from them. Any day I can spend in the locker room with Leonard and James is a good day. They add a lot to the team, on the field and off the field, so I'd love to see them back. I understand how this business works. If it's their time to go, they've got to go, but I'd love to see them back.
VR: What's your offseason like?
CL: I try to get away from it for a little bit. I didn't do much football stuff at all for a couple weeks after it [the season]. I think it's important to let your mind kind of get away from the game a little bit. But once Feburary starts you can get back into it. It's hard not to think about it. I start to watch film, do some self scouting and also watch tape of some other players in the league to try to take my game to the next level.
VR: Message for Rams fans in 2010?
CL: Just have faith in us. I know it's been tough, but I think that you guys can see every week our best effort. I know it's a business and we have to perform. The one thing we're going to do is bring it every week. We've got a good group of guys, and I believe that good things happen to good people. We've got a locker room full of good people willing to go the extra mile, and I think we're going to get over the hump. Just have faith in us and it'll be fun to watch in 2010.
Thanks again to Chris for taking the time to talk with TST.