On the Rams' new deal with Chris Long

EARTH CITY, Mo. -- With fans streaming into the St. Louis Rams' facilities for the start of training camp, the team confirmed reports that defensive lineman Chris Long had reached an agreement on a four-year extension.

Long, who led the Rams with a career-high 13 sacks last season, had been scheduled to become a free agent after the 2012 season. His deal now runs through 2016. Jay Glazer of Fox Sports reported the news.

The Rams had repeatedly said they hoped to have a new contract for Long. Getting this deal done seemed more like a matter of when, not if.

Long, 27, has improved his sack totals in every season. He's been a tenacious player and one the Rams envisioned building around when they made him the second player chosen in the 2008 draft.

The Rams are looking for Long to assume a larger leadership role now that veterans Fred Robbins and James Hall are no longer on the team. Long, though still young in the bigger picture, is the oldest defensive lineman on a Rams roster that is the NFL's youngest by average age.

The Rams are scheduled to begin their first camp practice at 3:30 p.m. CT. I'll be heading out to the fields shortly.