Long itching to get back on the field

Story by Chris Graham
sportsdom@ntelos.net

Chris Long is OK with the pomp and circumstance that goes with being a projected top-two or top-three pick in the NFL Draft.

I say that, and then I think, you know, that maybe he’s not.

“The only thing that’s taxing or annoying about it is that I’m not really able to get into a groove with my workouts. Other than that, you just kind of go with the flow. You know you’re going to have to show up at some team’s minicamp in two weeks, or maybe even less. Really, the sense of urgency to work out is really pretty high, but the opportunity to do it is not as good,” Long said by phone from New York City.

That’s the Chris Long that Virginia fans have known and loved the past four years speaking right there. He’d just finished saying how the hype machine that is the NFL Draft is “fun” and an “experience that you live only once.” But you could just tell he was itching to get back into the weight room.

That’s how teammates and opponents knew him at UVa. – as the guy with the nonstop motor who bled orange and blue on every snap. It’s fitting that Long will go down in Virginia football history as part of the first combination of Cavs to go in the top 10 of the first round of the NFL draft – teammate Branden Albert is projected to go as high as #5 to Kansas City.

“I think that means almost as much to me as where I go, is where Branden goes. I really want to see him do well. I keep saying that next to Jake Long, he’s the best offensive lineman in the draft. And I really mean that. I think teams as a junior didn’t get to look at his tape as much, and that’s why he had that late push of momentum. But I think it’s well-deserved. And I think it would be awesome for the program if we had two guys in the top 10,” Long said.

As for where Long is going to end up, he could hear his name called at #2 to St. Louis after Miami goes through the motions in making Jake Long the #1 pick.
“I think I’m definitely in the mix, but to be honest, I only know what you guys know. I can turn on ESPN and find out all about everything I could know. You guys watch the tube, and that’s pretty much what I know,” Long said.

“I’m just looking forward to getting picked up, and it doesn’t matter who to me. I’m anxious to get on a team and be a part of an organization and start working toward something,” Long said.

He might be just as anxious to get his father, NFL Hall of Famer Howie Long, off his back.

“I think he’s more nervous than I am. I’ve been the one to say, Hey, Dad, just calm down, it’s going to be alright. Whatever happens happens, and shoot, at the end of the week, I’ll be better off than I was when I woke up on Monday morning,” Long said.


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