Eagles defenders Long, McLeod not surprised by Rams' success
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By DAN GREENSPAN
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) The Los Angeles Rams always had the talent to succeed.
Defensive end Chris Long and safety Rodney McLeod knew it when they were playing for the franchise in St. Louis. As members of the Philadelphia Eagles, Long and McLeod will try to disrupt the Rams' turnaround when the two division leaders meet Sunday.
"I won't wish them luck this Sunday, but when I see them having success I just feel right about it. It's a good feeling," Long said Wednesday after the Eagles practiced at Angel Stadium.
McLeod and Long both saw their time as Rams end after the 2015 season before the team returned to Los Angeles. McLeod signed a five-year contract in free agency with the Eagles. Long was cut after eight seasons when injuries began to limit his effectiveness.
The decision allowed Long to join the New England Patriots last season and finally enjoy a taste of the postseason success that eluded him with the Rams, ultimately earning a Super Bowl ring.
Neither Long nor McLeod have any regrets that they were unable to be with the Rams when they finally broke through.
"I'm very lucky to be where I am today," Long said. "I was very lucky to be where I was last year, and those things don't happen if I don't get hurt."
"Obviously, I would have loved for that (current success) to happen when I was there, but I'm happy for where I am and I got a lot of guys that I know over there, so happy for them," McLeod said. "They are playing well and we'll have to bring our A-game on Sunday."
That means tightening up on third down and in the red zone. The Seattle Seahawks scored touchdowns on all three of their trips inside the 20-yard line and were 6 of 12 on third down in a 24-10 win on Sunday night that ended the Eagles' nine-game winning streak. Those kinds of breakdowns can't happen against an upstart Rams offense.
McLeod is impressed with how Rams head coach Sean McVay has reinvigorated the offense, especially with his use of running back Todd Gurley in the passing game. Gurley had 21 receptions for 188 yards when he was McLeod's teammate in 2015, but has set career-highs with 48 catches for 563 yards and three touchdowns this season.
Wide receiver Torrey Smith, another Eagle familiar with the Rams after spending the past two seasons with the NFC West rival San Francisco 49ers, sees an offense that is finally becoming a worthy peer to Los Angeles' elite defense.
"Well, to me, the Rams have always had like a Super Bowl-caliber defense. The offense has kind of always been playing catch-up and right now that's not the case," Smith said. "They are balling on both sides of the ball. They are a very dangerous team, very talented and they are playing very well."
Long is looking forward to seeing old friends who are the cornerstones of the Rams defense. He might be the only Eagle excited to see defensive tackles Aaron Donald and Michael Brockers and outside linebacker Robert Quinn, who have combined for 15.5 sacks and 26 tackles for loss.
"They deserve it," Long said. "Aaron, since he has been in the league has been one of the premier players, period. Rob has been a premier edge rusher. A lot of years they were playing on losing football teams so we're happy to see them winning."
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Updated December 7, 2017