Originally written December 16, 2011 on Fox Sports Midwest:
ST. LOUIS- Dealing with a right ankle injury hasn't slowed down Chris Long's pursuit of opposing quarterbacks. The 6-foot-3, 270-pound Long has 12 sacks this season. His streak of six sacks in six games was broken in Monday night's 30-13 loss at Seattle. The 26-year-old Long, who has been able to increase his sack total in each of his first four years with St. Louis, leads the Rams with 12 sacks. Long has nine sacks in his past seven games. There's more to Long than just his sack totals. He leads the Rams (2-11) in quarterback pressures (13) and is tied for the team lead in quarterback hits (13) this season. His play has helped St. Louis get 35 sacks as a team this season, tied for ninth most in the NFL. All those stats are impressive, but don't mention the Pro Bowl to Long. "I don't even like talking about that really," Long said Thursday at Rams Park. "It's a great honor, but it's not really why I play the game. I can name four or five guys with bigger names and better careers than me who are in the NFC. It's not really an issue for me." However, defensive coordinator Ken Flajole said he believes Long is deserving of being a Pro Bowl selection. "Chris has done a great job for us," Flajole said. "I think Chris is on a natural progression. He's gotten better every year than we have been here. He's a Pro Bowl player in my mind, but I'm not the guy voting. I certainly think he's done a great job for us and I see him that way." Long, the No. 2 overall draft choice in 2008, did not practice for the second consecutive day on Thursday. Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo said he believed Long will be limited in practice this week, as he has been before the past two games. Long only practiced on a limited basis last Saturday in preparation for the Seahawks. The Rams will host the Cincinnati Bengals (7-6) on Sunday. Long plans on playing in the game, too. Sacks may be difficult against the Bengals, who have given up just 21 this season. "The injury has been an up and down thing through the week, but Sundays are a sure thing," Long said. After getting three sacks in the first six games, Long had a career-high three sacks in the Rams' first win of the season, a 31-21 victory over visiting New Orleans. That effort started his six-week string of sacks that included two sacks in a 26-0 loss at San Francisco. The right ankle injury is bothersome and serious. He hurt it in the home loss Nov. 27 to Seattle. It was a passing play and Long went out to get quarterback Tarvaris Jackson and someone clipped Long's leg and he hurt his ankle. "I knew someone was wrong with it right away and these types of injuries tend to linger," Long said. "It bugs me not being able to practice. I'd like to be out there. With this type of deal, they try to limit the wear and tear on it. "They just try to get me to Sunday and they've done a great job getting me to Sunday. I've tried to keep it rolling." He's undergoing all types of treatment on the ankle so he can keep playing. The nagging pain stays with him. "I tell you the guy that's really fighting through a tough injury is Chris Long. He was sore and he wants to practice," Spagnuolo said. "We're trying to do the smart thing to do and hopefully we can have him out there tomorrow. It's a shorter week but we'll see." Long's sacks have come at critical times, too. Five of his 12 sacks have come in the fourth quarter. Long is tied with New England's Mark Anderson for the second-most fourth quarter sacks in the NFL this season. "Rightly so, a lot of people have asked questions about Chris Long," Spagnuolo said. "This is his fourth year in the league and I think he's blossoming. I think the best thing that's happened to him is he's been in the same system for three years. "We've been smart enough to keep him in the same spot. I just think he's gotten comfortable and I think we're seeing what I think everybody expected to see out of Chris Long when he came into the league." Notes: QB Sam Bradford did not practice Thursday. "It's kind of day to day depending on how it feels," Spagnuolo said. ... QB Kellen Clemens took all the first-team snaps in practice. ... RB Steven Jackson enters Sunday's game 105 yards shy of his seventh straight 1,000-yard season. That has been accomplished only by Barry Sanders, Curtis Martin, LaDainian Tomlinson, Emmitt Smith, Thurman Thomas and Eric Dickerson in NFL history.
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