Long returned to action from that injury in time to help guide Louisville to a win over South Florida. But shortly after his 134-yard, two touchdown effort against the Bulls, Long tore his ACL in practice during a special teams drill. The Cardinals didn't win another game the rest of the season, closing out with a five-game losing streak.
Now, after undergoing season-ending surgery last fall to repair the damage to right knee and sitting out spring practice, Long is trying to make one last go of it for the Cardinals. If he's healthy, Long could provide a major boost to Louisville's passing game.
"The knee feels good," Long said Saturday at the Cardinals annual Media Day. "I feel good. I practiced the first two days – a half a day (Friday). We're just going to take it day by day and see how it responds."
Long still isn't back to 100 percent. That's why the Louisville training staff doesn't want to push the 6'2, 214-pound wide receiver too hard to start camp. While Long went the entire first practice, he sat out the competitive portion of Friday's second practice with an ice bag wrapped around his knee as a precautionary measure.
"It's hard to put a percentage on it," said Long. "It's really determined by how it responds and swells when I get off the field. I'm still getting a little bit of fluid on it after practice. Those trainers are doing a great job taking care of me and I'll be ready to go by Indiana State."
"We're just trying to be smart about it and not run me into the ground," Long added. "When you take all those reps every single day that pounding (leads) to a lot of swelling. What we don't want to happen is to get two or three days of practice and then I have to take a couple days off. I don't want to take a step back when I've taken two forward. We'd rather take one step forward every day."
Long said his knee responded well, experiencing only ‘normal' swelling, after the first two practices. He was expected to practice over the weekend and the team put on pads for the first time on Monday. Long hopes he can help Louisville get back to a bowl game this season for the time since the 2007 Orange Bowl.
"I feel like this team is internally motivated," Long said. "We don't need a ranking to motivate us. We're motivated by the fact that we haven't accomplished what our goals were the past two years and that's to make it to a bowl game. So that motivates us."
Long said his goals for this year's team are to win the Big East and play in a BCS bowl game. The Cardinals were picked to finish seventh in the Big East last week by conference media members.