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Lions Decide to Go the Long Way in '87

September 06, 1987|United Press International

PONTIAC, Mich. — Coach Darryl Rogers is more interested in what Chuck Long can do than what the new Detroit Lions quarterback can't do.

Long doesn't have a great deep arm and is not all that mobile, but Rogers made him his No. 1 draft choice in 1986 with an eye toward grooming the Iowa product as Detroit's quarterback of the future. After watching Long start the last two games of his rookie season, the Lions' coach decided the future would begin in 1987.

What Rogers saw in Long during his collegiate career is what he hopes he sees professionally--touchdowns. Long is a big-play master who is always thinking end zone.

Long thus enters training camp as Detroit's No. 1 quarterback in Rogers' third season of reshaping the Lions, who dropped from nine wins to five last year.

Lack of a great arm on deep passes won't be that much of a drawback for Long with Detroit; the Lions don't have decent deep receivers.

"I can name more quarterbacks that have won the Super Bowl with a regular arm than I can with a strong arm," Rogers said. "There are only three quarterbacks in the last 30 years that have got in the Super Bowl with a strong arm.

"There's (Terry) Bradshaw, (John) Elway and (Dan) Marino," Rogers said. "Oh, yeah, I forgot (Jay) Schroeder. And most guys have to wait a long time to throw the ball anyway--their receivers aren't as fast as their arms."

Mobility may not be that much of a factor, either, since the Lions have a good offensive line.

Starting a quarterback with only one season's experience can be hazardous to your coaching health.

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