This marks Jake Long’s 22nd week of rehab from knee surgery, roughly five months. Day by day, drill by drill, Long is getting closer to a return to the lineup.

“Every week it’s getting stronger,” Long told reporters following Tuesday’s practice session at Rams Park. “I’m doing more and more on the field. I’m doing position-specific stuff.”

What at first seemed like an optimistic assessment is looking more realistic with each passing day. Namely, being ready to go on opening day of the 2014 season.

“Yeah, Week 1’s the goal, and that’s what we’re looking at right now,” Long said in his first conversation with reporters since surgery in January.

Long said that goal was talked about ever since he had surgery for the injury, which occurred early in Game 15 of last season, a Dec. 22 home contest with Tampa Bay.

It was kind of a fluke play in the sense that it came on a non-contact play. Long was setting up to pass-block on the Rams’ third offensive play of the Tampa Bay contest, when his right knee buckled.

“I took a long step and the foot stuck in the ground,” Long said. “My body kept going, and my knee didn’t. Sometimes that’s how it happens.”

Besides a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), Long also suffered a torn medial collateral ligament (MCL). MCL injuries heal on their own — in about a month or so — and don’t require surgery. But ACL injuries not only require surgery but involve a long, grueling rehabilitation process.

Long, one of the prizes of the Rams’ 2013 free-agent class along with tight end Jared Cook, has had plenty of rehabs during his NFL season, but never an ACL rehab.

“It’s definitely the toughest (rehab),” said Long, a four-time Pro Bowler who missed a total of six games in the 2011 and 2012 seasons with Miami because of a torn biceps (2011) and torn triceps (2012).

“I know the routine of what it takes to get back (from surgery), and the rehab process and all that stuff,” Long continued. “I’m used to it probably a little too much. You’re gonna have the ups and downs.