Chris Mortensen of ESPN reports that the Atlanta Falcons are set to meet with free-agent offensive tackle Jake Long today for a private workout. Long spent the past two seasons with the St. Louis Rams, where he was a teammate of current Falcons guard Mike Person, before being released by the Rams this past March. After Person, Joe Barksdale and Shelley Smith, Long becomes the fourth member of the 2013 Rams line that the Falcons have shown interest in this offseason.
Long, 30, is formerly the No. 1 pick of the Miami Dolphins in the same 2008 draft class as Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan. Long spent five seasons with the Dolphins before signing a $34 million contract with the Rams in 2013. He has started all 96 games he’s appeared in over the past seven years at left tackle, earning Pro Bowl bids his first four years in the league.
Long is currently trying to recover from a knee injury and has battled injuries throughout his career. The past two years with the Rams have ended prematurely due to consecutive ACL tears in his right knee. It was Long’s left knee that bothered him earlier in his career, although it was a torn biceps (2011) and triceps (2012) that put him on the injured reserve during his last two seasons with the Dolphins. Long also dealt with lower back issues late in 2011 and had surgery on his shoulder after the 2010 season.
Should the Falcons sign Long, it will be a strong indicator that Lamar Holmes is not close to recovering from the broken foot that he suffered in June that put him out indefinitely. There was a report earlier today that Holmes is among several Falcons players expected to begin Falcons training camp, which starts at the end of this week, on the Physically-Unable-to-Perform (PUP) list.
Long has had the bulk of his success in the NFL playing in a man-blocking scheme. All four of his Pro Bowl years came working primarily in that scheme, although he did play 2012 with the Dolphins in Joe Philbin’s zone-blocking scheme. That experience should allow a relatively smooth transition to the zone-blocking scheme that new Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan is expected to install in 2015.
Long likely will be insurance behind the Falcons starters in Jake Matthews and Ryan Schraeder given their only proven backup at tackle with Holmes out is Tyler Polumbus, who reportedly struggled when asked to play left tackle earlier this offseason. Matthews himself is recovering from a lisfranc foot injury that he suffered at the end of 2014, but was cleared to return to practice last month.