COLLEGE PARK — Nothing has been said. Deon Long has just seen the unmistakable looks of disgust Maryland coach Randy Edsall gives him whenever Long makes a mistake.
The wide receiver said he was better and sharper Wednesday compared to the first two sessions of preseason practice for the Terrapins. But even he acknowledged that he has had a lackluster start to camp.
Long uncharacteristically dropped passes during the first two practices. He jumped offsides twice Monday and Tuesday, which drew some of those looks from Edsall. He has also yet to deliver any big plays like the ones he so often made before suffering a broken leg midway through last season.
Long knows he has to do better, which goes along with what Edsall said prior to practice.
“We don’t even really have to have the conversation because I know what I’m doing wrong,” Long said, “and I know the type of player he knows I am, and I know what he wants out of me.”
Long is one of the Terps’ top playmakers, one of the key pieces on their offense and arguably one of the top wide receivers in the Big Ten.
However, Edsall made it clear before practice Wednesday that he was not pleased with what he saw from Long Monday and Tuesday.
“Deon’s got to get a lot better,” Edsall said. “I’m not happy with the way Deon is practicing right now. He’s got to do a better job of finishing on every play, and he’s got to be more exact with everything he’s doing, so let’s not heap a lot of praise right now. Let’s get him back to the things he’s supposed to be doing and playing to the level of his talent ability. And I think if he does that, then we can talk a little bit more about him.”
Long has a track record of producing during the regular season. He had 32 catches for 489 yards and a touchdown in seven games last year, and he says he has no issues or limitations stemming from the broken leg that ended his season in October and kept him from participating in the majority of spring practice.
But Long understands that Edsall wants to see more during practice and said he understands where the coach was coming from with his pre-practice comments.
“He’s the type of coach who sees your potential and knows how to tap into you and get the best out of you,” Long said. “He’ll hold you to high standards, and you need a coach like that because if he didn’t then he wouldn’t be doing his job.
“He just wanted to see me flying around more and just being more sharp, which I did today, so he’ll be satisfied.”
Most important to Long, his leg feels fine.
Long and fellow starting receiver Stefon Diggs both suffered broken legs in that same game against Wake Forest.
However, Long said he was off crutches by March, two months earlier than the doctors originally projected. He was in a walking boot for 2-3 weeks after but has been “back to acting like a normal person” since late March.
“I wouldn’t say I’ve had to knock off any rust,” Long said. “I’ve just got to fine-tune some things. I got back out here, but I’ve been out here all summer, so I really haven’t had to knock off any [rust]. I came out here ready for this.”
Long recalls having deep conversations with Diggs while both were rehabilitating from their injuries, when they talked about all they planned to accomplish for Maryland once they returned.
Regardless of the first few days of preseason practice and despite some of the lapses that drew those looks from Edsall, Long still feels like he is poised to do some of those big things he talked about with Diggs.
“We’re sort of putting those actions into effect now,” Long said. “We’re in the playbook more. We’re watching more film. We know Big Ten defenses right now, and we’re just students of the game, and we don’t take it for granted.”
NOTES: Diggs was back out at practice Wednesday after leaving Tuesday’s session early with an undisclosed injury. … Evan Mulrooney, who entered camp as the favorite to win the Terps’ starting left guard job, missed practice for a second straight day with an undisclosed illness. Edsall said prior to practice that Mulrooney is in the hospital and being evaluated by doctors.
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