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Jake Long Fired Up to Join Vikings

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. —Jake Long kept his eye on the Vikings for the first few weeks of the season.

And when the league's only unbeaten team called to evaluate him in a workout, the veteran offensive tackle jumped at the chance.

Long, whom the Vikings added to their roster Tuesday morning, spoke to the media after his first practice in Minnesota.

"I've been watching them the last few weeks, and they have a great team," Long said. "I'm really excited to be a part of it.

"They're doing something special, and I'm just going to do whatever I can to keep it going," he added.

The former No. 1 overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft, Long has 96 career starts and has previously played for the Miami Dolphins (2008-12), St. Louis Rams (2013-14) and Atlanta Falcons (2015).

Long said he's been working out almost nonstop for the past 10 months while waiting for a chance to get back on the field.

"I've been working hard all offseason and into the season, working out every single day just waiting for an opportunity and a chance," Long said. "I got that chance here. I'm going to come here and give it everything I have and just help this team keep winning and do whatever I can for them."

Long later expanded on what his workout regimen has been like since the end of the 2015 season.

"Working out five, six days a week. I haven't taken a day off since January," Long said. "I knew a call would come at some point and I needed to show that team that I was in shape and working hard. When that time came, it worked out well."

Long saw a handful of familiar faces on the field during his first practice with the Vikings.

View images of the Vikings new tackle Jake Long from his days with the Atlanta Falcons, St. Louis Rams and Miami Dolphins.

Offensive line coach Tony Sparano was in his first of four seasons as Dolphins head coach when Miami drafted Long with the first pick in 2008. Long also was teammates with center Joe Berger with the Dolphins.

Long later played in St. Louis for the Rams, where he blocked for current Vikings quarterbacks Sam Bradford and Shaun Hill.

Long, who said he loved playing for Sparano in Miami, said he already has a grasp of the playbook but added he'll spend extra time during the bye week learning the Vikings offense.

"(I'm) pretty familiar with it," Long said. "Lots of carryover and similar to the stuff we did when I was with him in Miami.

"There's some new terminology and some new plays," he added. "Luckily we've got the bye week, and I can really get in the playbook and spend some time with him and learn everything."

Long said he's not surprised by Bradford's play with the Vikings. Bradford, the No. 1 overall pick in 2010, has thrown for 990 yards with six touchdowns and no interceptions in four starts with the Vikings. 

"I played with Sam in St. Louis and being able to play with him there, I know the type of guy he is," Long said. "He loves this game, he plays hard, physical guy. He takes a lot of hits but he gets right back up. I knew he'd thrive when he came here, and he's showing that and has done a great job for this team."

"Sam is a special quarterback. I've known it ever since he came into the league," he later added. "Being able to play with him in St. Louis really solidified that with me. For him to really shine and be doing great, I'm happy for him."

Long, a former two-time All-American at the University of Michigan, has experience playing both left and right tackle. He said he worked on both sides of the line in Tuesday's practice and will play wherever Minnesota's coaches want him to.

Long also noted that he feels healthy, something he couldn't say in recent years as he battled  injuries.

"My body feels great right now," Long said. "Honestly, this is the best I've felt in a long time.

"I'm about two years out from my ACL (injury) so I've had time to heal, my whole body has time to heal," he added.

It remains to be seen how Long fits in with the Vikings offense. Minnesota placed tackle Andre Smith on injured reserve Monday with a triceps injury.

Wherever and whenever he plays, Long said he couldn't be happier to be with the Vikings.

"When I got the call, I was jacked up and ready to roll," Long said. "We had the workout yesterday, and everything went well.

"Getting out here and back to football today, I was like a kid in a candy store," he added.

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