ST. LOUIS (AP) -- While waiting eight games for his first sack of the season, Chris Long insists he was not inundated with tips from his Hall of Fame father.
The St. Louis Rams' defensive end said he rarely goes a day without touching base with his dad, former Raiders great Howie Long. But the topics mostly are the usual father-and-son stuff, even if he's talking to a former star defensive end who went to eight Pro Bowls and racked up 84 career sacks, not counting 7.5 recorded as a rookie before the sack was an official statistic.
"I'm appreciative of some of the insights he's able to give me," Chris Long said. "But in this building there's enough football insight to go around. He just kind of plays the role of the father and somebody's who's gone through it."
Long was the second overall pick of the 2008 draft, and leads the team's linemen in tackles. But he was shut out in sacks before dropping the Lions' Matthew Stafford, which made the team's recent bye week a lot more relaxing.
Howie Long had 13 sacks in 1983, including five in one game against the Redskins. That single-game total matches his son's career total heading into Sunday's game against the unbeaten Saints.
Of course, Howie Long played for a much better team. There aren't many worse these days than the Rams (1-7), a sorry 6-34 since the start of the 2007 season.
Still, expectations are high for Chris Long given his lofty draft status.
"There's a lot of pressure being No. 2, probably 30 times more than being No. 5 or 10," Long said. "It's just the way it goes. My job is to play to my maximum ability and to my capability, and to take coaching and get better and better."
Long makes no apologies for his commitment and consistent energy level, but concedes getting the first sack was a major relief.
"When you turn on the tape you'll see I'm playing my butt off," he said. "I'll always be able to give that to this organization. But yeah, it's a big weight. I'm not going to lie, it's crazy to go seven games with a goose egg."
Rams coaches see a more complete player in Long's second season.
"You've got to remember, Chris a lot of times is going against the left tackle," coach Steve Spagnuolo said. "He's a relentless player."
Just minus the keynote plays.
"You're playing better ball than last year and you've got less sacks," Long said. "You've just got to continue to try to fit in on defense and work as hard as you can and hopefully those numbers keep getting better as we continue to win some games and play better football."
The game has changed since Howie Long, a member of the 2000 Hall of Fame class, retired after the 1993 season. So Chris Long said his dad doesn't offer too much advice.
"He's a very realistic person and not one to overstep his bounds or get out of his lane," Chris Long said. "He has a good grip on reality. He understands the game has changed but he can still help me in some way.
"A lot of that is just being a dad, and being supportive."
The Rams got a bonus day of practice Monday, offering a chance for Spagnuolo to sprinkle in a bit of the Saints game plan. If St. Louis had played on Sunday, Monday would have been a day off.
Offensive guard Richie Incognito (foot) shed a protective boot for the first time but didn't practice and appears unlikely to return this week. Wide receiver-returner Danny Amendola returned to full duty after sustaining a concussion against the Lions.
Spagnuolo said the team wasn't in a rush to replace defensive back Anthony Smith, claimed by the Jaguars after being released for undisclosed reasons during the bye week.
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)