Justin Rogers and Bob Wojnowski of The Detroit News talk about their takeaways from Sunday's crushing 26-24 loss. Justin Rogers, The Detroit News
Arlington, Texas — It was early in the game against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, about halfway through the first quarter. Detroit Lions guard T.J. Lang was pulling to the left on a handoff and there was a big collision, the type you might expect in the trenches on run play.
But shortly after running back LeGarrette Blount was stopped for a 1-yard gain, it was clear something wasn’t right.
Lang took a few steps, returned to the huddle, before dropping to his knees. Officials signaled for play to be stopped and the Lions training staff rushed to the veteran lineman's side as he clawed at his helmet to get it off before burying his head in the turf.
Replays confirmed what had happened. When Lang met Cowboys linebacker Jalen Smith, the two smashed helmets, with Lang taking the brunt of the shot to the side of his head.
Lang couldn’t get to his feet on his own, and with mouth agape and eyes focused on nothing particular, he was helped directly to the locker room where he was ruled out for the rest of the game shortly after with a concussion.
By Lang’s own count, based on comments he made during a 2015 conference call with Detroit media while still a member of the Green Bay Packers, this would be his fifth or sixth brain injury of his professional career. It’s the second concussion he’s suffered since signing with the Lions last year.
“All injuries do impact the guys, but the guys are trained well to refocus on the next play,” Lions coach Matt Patricia said. “They understand that those guys are going to be in great care. They understand that their brothers in those situations are tough and they’re working through it and you’ve got to just refocus on the next play and just go out and do your job.”
Lang was replaced in the lineup by Kenny Wiggins, and on the ensuing third-down snap, quarterback Matthew Stafford’s pass to Theo Riddick fell incomplete. The offense did eventually settle down to score 24 points, tied for the most allowed by the Dallas defense this season.
Every concussion is unique and there’s no way to tell how long Lang will be out the lineup. It’s another unfortunate injury for the veteran, who has battled durability issues before and since singing with Detroit. He missed three games last season while battling multiple ailments, and one this year with a back injury.
The Lions will return to the practice field on Wednesday in preparation for Lang's former team, the Packers.