Long suffered the non-contact injury during the first half as he attempted to block a Tampa Bay pass rusher. His left knee appeared to buckle when he planted and he had to be carted off the field.
While Long was initially feared to have a torn ACL, the damage to the MCL will complicate his recovery. Fisher said the MCL damage will force surgery to be delayed 4-to-6 weeks. With a recovery time of eight to 12 months, Long's status for the start of next season is now very much in doubt. Players have suffered late-season ACL injuries and returned in time for the start of the next season, but Long may not have surgery until February.
Even if he were able to return well ahead of schedule, he might miss the first month of the season. As Ryan Van Bibber of Turf Show Times wrote, the Rams have questions to answer on the offensive line. They won't save much by releasing Long, so he'll likely stay on the roster. Rodger Saffold will replace Long at left tackle on Sunday and is set become an unrestricted free agent after the season. Re-signing Saffold is an option as is drafting an offensive tackle early.
With a top-five pick, they could go after Jake Matthews of Texas A&M, but a pick in the middle of the draft would still leave the Rams with plenty of options. Florida State's Cameron Erving, Michigan's Taylor Lewan, and Alabama's Cyrus Kouandjio are all potential first-round picks. Another name to watch is Auburn tackle Greg Robinson. He's undecided about making the jump in 2014, but if he does, he's another first-round candidate.
All of those names are possibilities, but they're also rookies. Even the best rookies can struggle on the left side when making the jump. With a rookie on the left side and a relatively untested Joe Barksdale on the right, the Rams' big expectations for 2014 are resting on two unknown bookends.