ST. LOUIS — If Chris Long gets a sack in the St. Louis Rams' finale on Sunday, he will top the best season ever put together by his Hall of Fame father.
In his mind, he'll still be playing catch-up.
Chris Long has 13 sacks, tied with Howie Long's personal-best total from 1983. The younger Long points out that dad played most of his career as a tackle in a 3-4 defense. That made it a lot tougher to rush the passer, so to measure up Chris Long guessed he would need 22 sacks to earn some family bragging rights.
Long says he is happy to be enjoying his best year, despite the Rams' struggles. St. Louis (2-13) hosts San Francisco (12-3) this weekend to wrap up a disappointing season.
He's not interested in a competition anyway.
"Let's be real," Long said. "I don't really look to compete with my pops. I don't know what he did that year but he had to fight a lot of double teams, so it's pretty remarkable."
Howie Long totaled 84 sacks in a 13-year career with the Raiders and had three straight years in double digits from 1983-85. The 51-year-old Long, now an analyst with Fox Sports, was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2000.
Chris Long's total this season is sixth in the NFL and he's come on strong with 10 sacks in the last nine games, even while nursing a high left ankle sprain that kept him out of most practices for several weeks but never held him back on game day. He also has 13 quarterback hits.
Long has been on the field more this week and said the ankle has "gotten a ton better."
"It takes time to heal and they've given me that time by cutting down my reps a lot," Long said. "I feel like it's paid off a lot."
So yes, he's happy with the progress he's made. He's built on the sack total each year, getting four in '08, five in '09 and 8.5 last season.
"Individually, I'd say I'm proud of my effort and what I've put into it," he said. "I'm not disappointed in myself, I feel like I've worked hard and I'll continue to work hard."
Long's realistic about where he stands among pass rushers. There's no disappointment that he was passed over in Pro Bowl balloting, although he, running back Steven Jackson and middle linebacker James Laurinaitis were picks as alternates. Expectations for the announcement were so low for Long that he was at the movies enjoying "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" when he began to get texts offering condolences.
He has no quibble with those picked ahead of him. Minnesota's Jared Allen and Philadelphia's Jason Babin are starters and the Giants' Jason Pierre-Paul is a reserve.
"If you'd asked me to pick the Pro Bowl, I would have picked it that way," Long said. "I don't think I'm one of the top three defensive ends or that I had one of the top three defensive end years in the NFC, so I think it's fair. What happened is what's supposed to happen. I think there are three awesome players there."
A better season for the Rams no doubt would have raised his standing. If they finish with a loss against the NFC West champion 49ers and the Colts win at Jacksonville, the Rams would get the No. 1 draft pick for the second time in three years, plus they won only two games in Long's rookie year.
So he'd take more wins over recognition.
"I mean, it's been really frustrating. To have two wins at this point in the season, it's unacceptable," Long said. "There's no way around that. We haven't played to our potential and I guess we have only one more game to show what our potential is."
Notes: CB Al Harris, on injured reserve with a knee injury, plans to retire. Coach Steve Spagnuolo said Harris, who signed a one-year free agent deal this summer, was perhaps more valuable off the field than on it. The 37-year-old Harris, who made five starts before going on IR on Nov. 14, plans on becoming a coach. "He's done so much more than what you guys even have seen on the field," Spagnuolo said. ... QB Sam Bradford rode a stationary bicycle and remained day to day with a high left ankle sprain that's likely to sideline him for a sixth game in the finale. ... OLB Brady Poppinga was back after missing practice Wednesday due to illness, but RB Jerious Norwood missed Thursday with similar symptoms. Practice squad OT Ryan McKee also was out with illness.