In May, Washington Redskins President and general manager Bruce Allen explained to the media during a pre-draft press conference that he wanted to bring in players that had a passion for football first and foremost.
“What we’re looking for is people who love football,” Allen said at the time. “And want to play football and want to win with the Washington Redskins.”
A tough-nosed offensive lineman who helped the University of Nebraska record more than 250 rushing yards per game when active during his senior season, Long says his first few months in the NFL haven’t been too bad considering the Redskins at times use an offensive scheme similar to what was ran at Nebraska.
“We have some overlap between Nebraska and here,” Long said when asked about the changes between the college and NFL styles of play. "We had inside zone and outside zone, zone read, power, gap stuff. It’s still an adjustment but as far as overall scheme, it overlaps so it helps me a lot.”
Perhaps the tightest-knit unit on the roster due to the fact they always have to be in-sync, Long said that when the offense does incorporate zone-blocking into the playbook, it helps to have the veteran offensive linemen working with him.
“It depends on the front, but a lot of times, you are a part of a combination block with another lineman whether it’s a guard or center,” Long said. “If it’s an on the run block that you are responsible for, then you’re (responsible for) a second level guy and a guy on the line of scrimmage. You have to figure out who’s going to take who and there’s different steps for different blocks.”
Draft Day Experience
Long knew he was going to be drafted at some point, he just didn’t know when and where it’d be. Still, that didn’t ease the nerves any.
After all, it was the biggest moment of his life.
Shortly before the Redskins took him with the 78th-pick, Long received a call from his future employer.
“I was sitting in my living room in Elkhorn, Neb., with my family and friends, and I was just anxiously watching in my recliner,” Long recalled.
To add to the craziness of the day, Long had little contact with Washington before his selection.
“They called me about three picks before their pick,” Long said of the Redskins. “I hadn’t had any contact with the Redskins beforehand.
“I was pretty shocked, but the house phone rang and I didn’t know if it was somebody else. I had my cell phone and thought they would call it. I was really excited. I was ecstatic. We had a great time afterwards in celebration. I was on cloud nine for sure.”
Recovering From Injury
In the first quarter of Nebraska’s Big 10 conference game vs. Purdue last October, Long received news no prospective NFL talent wants to hear – he suffered a season-ending knee injury.
Long’s career was at a crossroads. Should he give up football with an eye towards a different career or should he see if he can get back in the game and rehab his knee back to full strength?
For Long, the decsion was easy: continue playing football.
With support from Nebraska’s medical staff, his health was a non-issue by the time he arrived at rookie minicamp at Redskins Park in May.
“I got to give a lot of credit to the trainers at Nebraska,” Long said. “We were hitting it every day in the training room. I was lifting and running as soon as I could. It was a balance of not coming back too soon but also coming back fast so I could get ready for pro days and stuff.
“We were going hard as soon as we were able to do. It was a grind.”
Five W’s And One H
Who is the best basketball player ever?
“I’m not a huge basketball watcher, but you have to love Michael Jordan, but I know LeBron (James) is tearing it up, too.”
What is it like being away from Nebraska?
(Long was born and raised there.)
“It’s really not bothering me. I’ve been really busy. Obviously, you miss home and miss family every now and then, but it’s been an exciting adjustment. I’m handling it well. I was surprised.”
Where would you go on vacation if you could go anywhere in the world?
“Europe. I just want to backpack Europe and see a lot of stuff. I’ve been out of the country but never there. That or New Zealand.”
When was the moment you realized that the NFL dream was going to become reality?
“One of my coaches said I was playing really well my first year in college. He said the sky is the limit and to keep going. It was a quick change, because I was just trying to become a starter at Nebraska. I was a walk-on, so I had to climb the ladder, but as soon as I got there, I started to have some success. Then, a few little ideas popped into my head and maybe I could take it a little farther.”
Why did you choose Biological Sciences as your major?
“If I wasn’t going to be playing football, I was going to go to medical school in the fall. That’s what I wanted to do and always wanted to do. It kind of runs in the family, but I’ve always been interested in health care and science. I have shadowed a lot of doctors, and I love it.”
How fun is it to play offensive line?
“Oh, it’s great. We are the closest-knit group, because we have to work so much together. We are like our own little group, but there’s a bunch of good guys on this team and in the offensive line room. I’m just enjoying it and having fun.”