By: Will Burchfield
Training camp was slow and quiet for T.J. Lang. His preseason, which is all but over, has only just begun.
The right guard, who underwent hip surgery in the winter, certainly hasn’t gotten in the number of reps he’d like ahead of his first season with the Lions.
Still, he’s comfortable with where he stands today, Aug. 28.
“For this point in (preseason) I’m well aware of the fact that I’ve missed some time, resting and what not. But I’m finding ways to make up for it, whether it’s walk-throughs, doing stuff on my own, making sure I’m ready to go,” Lang said.
Lang hardly practiced during training camp, receiving numerous off-days to ease his hip back into action. And he sat out the Lions’ first game of the preseason.
He played sparingly in Week 2 versus the Jets and then logged about 20 snaps in Week 3 versus the Patriots. He may play in the Lions’ final preseason game, this Friday against the Bills, although starters typically sit that contest out.
Even as a veteran, Lang would benefit from the experience.
“I felt pretty good the last couple preseason games. I’ve got some things I need to continue to clean up fundamentally, but physically, mentally I feel pretty good. Ready for the season to start. Gotta take the rest of this week to fine-tune some small details and then get flying next week,” he said.
Lang is part of a new-look offensive line that also features Rick Wagner at right tackle and Greg Robinson — currently — at left tackle, filling in for the injured Taylor Decker. It’s crucial the entire unit develops some chemistry ahead of the Lions’ season-opener versus the Cardinals on Sept. 10.
The O-line didn’t look great versus the Patriots, struggling to open up holes in the run game. The Lions rushed for just 28 yards in the first half, when all of their starters were on the field.
“I think it’s only concerning if we don’t realize that it was a problem,” Lang said. “We’ve addressed it the last couple days that obviously if we start football games like that it’s gonna be hard to win. Sometimes early in the game everything’s not gonna go perfect for you, you gotta find a way to stop the bleeding at some point. I don’t think that’s gonna be a characteristic of our football team, but we also realize we gotta start better than that, for sure.”
The Lions had even bigger problems on defense. Of course, the offense, which converted two of six third downs in the first half and committed a turnover on its first play from scrimmage, didn’t do the defense many favors.
“When one area of your team is not firing on all cylinders, the other areas of the team gotta pick them up — and offensively, we didn’t do that,” Lang said. “That’s something we talked about and addressed. We just gotta play better football and convert those third downs. It was pretty bad there in the first half.”