T.J. Lang shakes off rust, ready to fit in with Lions
Allen Park — T.J. Lang has played in more than 100 games in eight NFL seasons. He’s been a Pro Bowler and won a Super Bowl, but taking the practice field for the first time with the Detroit Lions, he admits he felt like a rookie.
Returning from offseason hip surgery, the prized free-agent addition took a full load of snaps at right guard on Sunday, knocking off the rust from the longer than normal layoff.
“It feels good,” Lang said. “This was the plan all along — be ready for training camp. I’m sure there will still be some days where kind of take it slow. Overall, felt pretty good to be out there, a little rusty. I’ve got a lot of work to do. It was good moving around, getting some work in.”
The hip issue had been nagging Lang the past several seasons. After practice, he told reporters it’s the best it has felt in the past five years.
As Lang continues to clear physical hurdles, he’s also working through the mental challenges of changing teams, after eight seasons in Green Bay. That includes learning a new playbook, new verbiage for the calls and the playing style and tendencies of his new teammates.
“Really, I was kind of starting from scratch,” Lang said. “I had to learn a whole new vocabulary, a whole new dictionary, almost. I was accustomed to calling one play a different way and hearing it called something else, it a little time to transition to that.
“That’s what April, May, June, all those OTAs, all those meetings are for, trying to get accustomed to that so you don’t slow yourself down in training camp,” Lang said. “I think we did a lot of good work back in the spring and today was a pretty good day communicating with those guys, being on the same page.”
Lang estimated it will take one or two preseason games before he’s completely comfortable with the two men slated to play beside him, center Travis Swanson and right tackle Rick Wagner.
“I’ve been through a lot of changes in my career, playing next to new guys, and you just have to find ways speed up the process, whether that’s getting in extra meeting time with the guys or really focusing in on when we’re doing the walkthroughs,” Lang said. “Today was a pretty good start.”
Lang inked a three-year, $28.5 million deal with the Lions this offseason, replacing longtime starter Larry Warford, who signed with the New Orleans Saints.