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Lions and Rogers Checking Out Long as Quarterback of Future

May 10, 1987|Associated Press

Detroit Lions Coach Darryl Rogers says the team's quarterback of the future is getting the opportunity now to show whether he can lead the team.

At the Lions minicamp in Tampa, Fla., quarterback Chuck Long is considered the designated starter ahead of veterans Joe Ferguson and Eric Hipple, and is expected to start when the Lions open their regular season on Sept. 13 against the Minnesota Vikings.

"He's the No. 1 quarterback in this camp," Rogers told The Detroit News. "We're going to give him every opportunity. We're going to give him everything we can in this camp and in the preseason."

"We know down the road it's going to be Chuck Long, unless he falls flat on his face. We've got to make a total commitment now. Otherwise, we're just putting it off."

Long, whose protracted contract negotiations last season kept him from reporting until training camp was almost over, says he's excited about the opportunity.

"It's a great situation to be in," Long said after a practice at the University of Tampa. "I feel confident in myself and confident in my ability to handle the team.

"I hope I can show my leadership ability. It can rub off on guys in the huddle," he said.

As a rookie last year, Long watched from the sidelines while Hipple and Ferguson got the playing time. The former University of Iowa star did not work regularly in practice with the offense until late in the season.

He started the team's last two games--losses to Chicago and Atlanta--and spent the second half of the Atlanta game on the bench.

His first pass during the regular season last year was a touchdown pass to Leonard Thompson.

"We've got to find out now," Rogers said. "And that's being fair to the other two quarterbacks. If he does the job, they'll know it. If he doesn't do the job, they'll know that too."

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