Rams Roster Preview: OT Jake Long

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Looking at the Rams' starting left tackle's value in 2014.

On June 16th, 2004, Jake Long jumped out of his bedroom window. Landing on the ground two stories below, he had a good reason for taking his little gravity ride. The house he shared with 8 other Michigan Wolverine players had caught fire, and the only way out was to jump...

His NFL career started off with a bang. The first overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft by the Miami Dolphins, he went to four straight Pro-Bowls, and was first team All-Pro in 2010, and second team in 2009. In 2012, injuries marred his career for the first time. He left the slow burning rubble of Miami, leaving behind Richie Incognito to throw gasoline on a fire that's been well documented. In 2013, Jake Long signed with the St. Louis Rams. "Longing" for a top flight offensive left tackle, the Rams had their guy. Sam Bradford began to sleep well at night, no longer awakening sweat drenched from nightmares of being crushed by NFL pass rushers. Life was good, or a while...

There isn't a person in the NFL world who thinks Jake Long isn't an elite left tackle when he's healthy. But therein lies the rub. Long is a tough guy, and the injuries which have forced him off the field at times aren't just little dings and bruises. In the latter part of the 2013 season, Long suffered a ACL/MCL injury, and he's been recovering ever since. The Rams - not unlike what Miami did when they drafted Stanford's Jonathan Martin to hedge their bets if Long became a salary cap casualty - used the #2 overall pick on a potential replacement, or at least insurance policy, when they selected Greg Robinson. The rookie will start his career at left guard, hopefully next to the man he might one day ultimately replace - Jake Long.

Roster Battle

I've been saying for a while now the left tackle position in 2014 - like many other year's before now - is going to be pivotal for the St. Louis Rams. With little doubt, the potential of the Rams' offense is going to hinge on whether Jake Long returns healthy and ready to hit the field in top form. Depth at left tackle is thin for St. Louis, and those who think the fragile Rodger Saffold could fill Long's shoes are silly at best. Robinson is still learning how to pass block, so he really isn't an option if Jake Long isn't ready to go. There are a few sundry pretenders on the Rams roster, who in a pinch may be able to stand in, but none will challenge Long for his starting spot - IF HE'S HEALTHY.

Expectations

Let's be clear here: I'm a Rams fan, so I naturally assume Jake Long will return to his rookie prowess, rejuvenated by his miraculous doctors, and the great barbecue and frozen yogurt diet St. Louis has to offer. Let's face it, "The Lou" is really Lourdes, and the healing powers of Earth City, Missouri are... Who am I kidding! If Jake Long isn't running a 3.44 second 40 yard dash by the first preseason game, I'll be running around looking for a rabid dog, with a pork chop in each hand begging it to bite me! The season will be done, and life as we know it will end when the planet Glaxor invades the Earth. I will off course survive, since I speak "Glaxor-ese", but the rest of you are TOAST!

Will he make the Rams roster in 2014?

Tev Broner wants me to answer this question in each of my player review articles that are currently germinating in my mind, and you'll see over the next few days. While the other players Tev's assigned me are going to battle for a roster spot for the St. Louis Rams, Jake Long is a absolute, solid lock to make the 2014 squad... This is, unless the Glaxor thing happens...

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