RAMS EXTRAS

Jake Long almost ready for Rams' spring workouts

2013-03-22T06:30:00Z 2013-03-28T05:36:44Z Jake Long almost ready for Rams' spring workoutsBy Jim Thomas jthomas@post-dispatch.com 314-340-8197 stltoday.com

PHOENIX, ARIZ. • The newest Ram, offensive tackle Jake Long, still has some rehab work to do as he recovers from triceps surgery. But coach Jeff Fisher indicated at the NFL owners meetings that Long isn’t that far away from returning to the field.

“He’s very close,” Fisher said. “We expect to have him on the field in mid-OTAs.”

The acronym is short for “organized team activities,” otherwise known as spring practices.

Fisher expressed confidence that Long could return to the level he performed at during his first three years in the NFL, before injuries struck in 2011 and ‘12.

“We think he’s got a lot of good snaps left,” Fisher said. “No question. He fought through some injuries, and I think his production dropped because of it. But there’s no reason he doesn’t get back to 100 percent.

“He’s gonna be a huge part of what we want to do moving forward in protection,” Fisher said. “Sam (Bradford)’s gonna feel very comfortable with his back protected.”

And if there was any doubt about where Long would be playing in St. Louis, Fisher added: “He’s gonna line up and be our left tackle.”

Long has had no less than 10 surgeries over his career, which helps explain the extensive physical exam during his visit to St. Louis.

“It was not an easy thing for him to put that big body in an MRI tube, and MRI six different body parts,” Fisher said. “It’s not a fun deal. But he knew it and he handled it, and when he was done he was happy. It was like finishing a game.”

LIFE WITHOUT TURNER

The Rams’ interior offensive line depth took a hit when center-guard Rob Turner opted for the Tennessee Titans in free agency earlier this week.

“We had a lot of interest in having Rob back,” Fisher said. “He did a great job for us. But we ran the risk of losing Rob, knowing that we were going to get Jake (Long) done. We got a sense that the Titans were really interested in him.”

Turner reportedly signed a one-year, $1.5 million deal with Tennessee, meaning the Rams must have offered Turner either a minimum deal or one slightly above that. Turner’s best position probably is center, but he also played left guard, a position that becomes even more wide-open with his departure.

“We’ll create some fascinating competition there,” Fisher said. “We’ll be in good shape. My understanding is Rokevious (Watkins) is coming along. Shelley Smith’s played there. Obviously, it’ll be a position where we potentially could acquire an additional unrestricted free agent. And that’s also a place that we’ll probably address in the draft.”

THE SANDWICH MAKER

Fisher got a kick out of the news that running back Terrance Ganaway - aka The Sandwich Maker - was working part time at a Jimmy John’s in Waco, Texas this offseason. He just hopes Ganaway isn’t enjoying the sandwich shop’s products too much.

“I thought it was a great story,” Fisher said. “Terrance is a character, now. He’s a good guy. Smart kid. Last I heard he was working there a couple times a week. I just hope he’s not eating. Not that Jimmy John’s isn’t a good place to eat. But too much for a big back’s not good.”

The departure of Steven Jackson in free agency to Atlanta leaves the Rams with a pair of scatbacks in 196-pound Daryl Richardson and 197-pound Isaiah Pead as their top options at running back. But Ganaway could give the Rams some Jackson-like size at the position at 6-foot-1, 240.

“Terrance is a big back, and he’s got good run skills,” Fisher said. “We didn’t really get a chance to see it in a ballgame. So we’ll get a chance to see him in the preseason.”

Follow Jim Thomas on twitter @jthom1

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