Long was signed off the street after being active for just four games with Atlanta in 2015, seeing action in just one game at left tackle.
For the time being, despite still trying to shake off the rust from a body that has suffered numerous significant leg injuries, Long is looking to do his part to help turn around the problems that have plagued the offensive line all season.
He admits he has struggled, but so has the entire offensive line. They are looking to get back on track and it needs to come from the entire O-line as a unit, not just the individual component pieces.
“We’ve just got to keep improving,” Long said. “We do some good things and then we do some bad things. We’ve just got to be more consistent and staying upright more. We will. We’ve got a good group of guys and we work hard. We’ve just got to keep correcting our mistakes.”
Long’s first game was dismal. On the field for just 13 plays, he allowed defenders to get by him for two sacks of Sam Bradford – both of which resulted in fumbles recovered by Philadelphia.
He had his struggles last Monday as well, but he could see some progress as the rust was getting shaken off and he could see some of his old form coming back. It was more sporadic that he would want, but it was a sign that there is improvement with work still to do.
“I feel that I’m better as I get more time,” Long said. “I’m not good enough. I’ve still got to work on some things. I will, keep working hard and making improvements.”
Coming into a team during the season is a difficult call for a young player with no injury history, much less a nine-year veteran with balky knees. Typically, a player looking to get back into game shape has the luxury of the slow ascent of work in training camp and the preseason to get that job done.
Long didn’t have that luxury. He came to a team five games into the regular season and is still finding himself catching up.
It’s a process that has been frustrating at times, but one that he has been seeing the incremental improvement of his efforts.
“The more time I’m getting in practice, the better I feel,” Long said. “There’s no excuses. I have to get up to speed quickly and get better. I’ve just got keep working hard and it will come.”
There is a lot of concern around the Vikings that the offensive line could be the team’s kryptonite that brings down the offense and potentially derails what was a season that started with such promise and had an undercurrent of Super Bowl potential.
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If the Vikings are going to get back on track toward that goal, it will require Long and his offensive linemates to do their part to right the ship and play at a higher level than they have during their recent swoon.
The best thing for Long is that the Vikings aren’t 2-5 and on the brink of playoff extinction. They’re 5-2 and still in charge of the things they can control. Not all teams can say that, but the Vikings can.
“Everything we want is still ahead of us,” Long said. “We’ve got a great team, a great group of guys and a great coaching staff. We’ve just to correct some of the little things that are holding us back. When we do that, we’ll be good to go.”null